These days, there are so many diet trends floating around that it can be a tough proposition to narrow in on any individual one. And what’s even more difficult, is narrowing in on the diet that is right for you and your specific needs. Gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian and vegan are all diets that are gaining in popularity and while they are all different, they all claim to be the ticket to leading a long a healthy life.
So what exactly do they mean and how do you know which diet to choose?
You may have heard the term gluten-free a lot as of late, but you may not know exactly what gluten-free entails. Contrary to popular belief, a gluten-free diet involves a lot more than simply cutting all carbs from you meals. Gluten is the protein found in grains like wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and barley) and the gluten-free diet was initially used solely to treat celiac disease. For people suffering from celiac disease, gluten will cause inflammation in the small intestine that can lead to gastrointestinal distress and nutritional deficiency. Of course today, eating gluten-free is no longer reserved for people with celiac disease and many others are giving it a try.
Many people that follow a gluten-free diet claim to experience higher energy levels, weight loss, reduced belly bloating and some have even found that eating gluten-free helps to reduce migraines and fibromyalgia.
There are also many people (although not celiac) who are sensitive to gluten and tend to suffer from stomach cramps, diarrhea and bloating after ingesting gluten. So if you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms after eating gluten, speak with your physician, for you may want to give eating gluten-free a try.
Foods to avoid
- Baked goods
Foods you may be surprised to know contain gluten
- Salad dressings
- Soy sauce
- Seasoned snack foods
- Soup and soup bases
- Imitation meat or seafood
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Processed lunch meat
Foods to eat
- Fresh meat
- Fruits and veggies
- Most dairy
- Grains like: buckwheat, flax, millet and quinoa
Lactose is the main sugar found in milk and other dairy products and although most of us have been ingesting lactose since birth, it may in fact be what is making you feel ill. This is because a surprising 75% of people from around the world suffer from a certain degree of lactase deficiency.
People with lactose intolerance can’t properly digest lactose and because of this, they can experience symptoms such as:
Other than these painful symptoms, a dairy filled diet can also lead to:
- Weight gain
- High cholesterol
- Lack of energy
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Although it may seem hard a first, eating lactose-free isn’t as difficult as you may think. You can try:
- Switching out milk for almond, soy or rice milk
- Trading in your yogurt for brands made from rice or soy
- Skipping the ice cream and opting for a dairy-free dessert
- Cutting out cheese. If you find you can’t do this, there are dairy-free cheeses out there
Many people on a lactose-free diet claim to:
- Feel less bloated
- Have fewer stomach aches
- Have higher energy levels
- Experience clearer skin
- Get better sleep
Vegetarian or Vegan?
It goes without saying, being a vegetarian is easier than going vegan. If you decide to become a vegetarian your restrictions are relatively simple. You will cut all meat, poultry, fish and seafood from your diet. You won’t eat animals, period. Becoming a vegan on the other hand requires a little more work. Okay, a lot more work. Vegans will not consume any animal products or by-products no matter how small.
That means no to:
- Fish or shellfish
- Meat or poultry
If you approach going vegan in the right way (by not subbing the foods you cut out with junk food) eating vegan can be extremely healthy. By filling your plates with plant-based foods your diet will be rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber without all of the calories, sugars and harmful fats. And it also keeps your beloved juicer happy. Of course, be sure to stock up on protein rich foods like soy, beans, nuts and seeds, so you have everything you need to live healthy and strong.
In the end, no matter which diet or lifestyle change you choose, one thing remains constant, the importance of including fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. These natural foods are filled with the nutrients you need, so be sure to get your fill whether it’s in salad, juices or fresh from the ground. Your body will thank you.
About the Author: This is a post by Anita. She is a gluten-free eater, a healthy living expert and a writer for Higherclick.com. She is currently writing on behalf of Macys.com.