It can be really confusing these days trying to figure out what we should or shouldn’t eat. Don’t eat fat! Don’t eat sugar! Don’t eat wheat! Don’t eat anything! (Well, that how it can seem, sometimes.) There’s so much conflicting information around that it can seem all too hard to try and stick to a healthy eating plan, so we just slip back into bad old habits.
The truth is that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to healthy eating because we’re all different, so what makes your best friend feel terrific may not be the answer for you. The one thing everyone can agree on, though, is that eating a diet of mainly unprocessed, natural foods, based on lots of vegetables, is going to be much better for you than getting your meals out of a packet, a can or – worst of all – a fast food wrapper.
Two things that really can make a difference to some people are gluten-free or dairy-free eating, and that’s because some of us just don’t tolerate these things well at all. In fact, they can make some people extremely ill.
Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, rye, barley and oats, and therefore it’s in a lot of food we commonly eat, such as bread and other baked goods, pasta, cereals, processed foods, takeaway foods and snacks. A lot of people don’t tolerate gluten very well; others can’t tolerate it at all and are diagnosed with a condition called coeliac disease. People who suffer from coeliac disease have an immune system that reacts abnormally to gluten, which causes bowel damage and can lead to serious health problems if it is not managed properly.
In people who are intolerant to gluten, it can cause symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, gas, fatigue and other aches and pains. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it could be useful to cut back or eliminate gluten from your diet for a while and see how that makes you feel. You could find that it makes an enormous difference to your wellbeing.
Lactose can cause all sorts of dietary problems too. It’s a sugar found in milk, so it is therefore found in dairy foods. Some people are intolerant to lactose and their bodies are unable to digest it properly. Symptoms can be similar to those caused by gluten – abdominal pain, bloating and cramping, diarrhoea and excessive wind. The intensity of the symptoms can vary a lot but, again, if you suspect you may be intolerant of lactose, you’d be wise to find out and make the necessary adjustments to your diet.
There’s plenty of information around about eating gluten-free or dairy-free and, if your body really doesn’t cope well with either of these things that are usually so common in our everyday diets, it really could be life-changing to identify the problem and begin a way of eating that will suit you so much better.
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