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Why do dogs need a gluten free diet?

Recently I see a lot of gluten free products appearing in the supermarkets: Gluten free popcorn, gluten free rice crackers, gluten free meat, gluten free water and yes even gluten free dog food. Why is this upsetting and funny at the same time? Those products never had any gluten to begin with and the industry just takes advantage of the hype and the lack of knowledge.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein naturally found in wheat, rye and barley. It is often added to bread to increase dough strength, make pasta more spongy and rubbery and granola bars more chewy. Corn and rice however are natural completely gluten free.

For people with celiac disease or that are intolerant for gluten a gluten free diet is a must. Gluten damages their small intestine and will lead to malabsorption and gastrointestinal problems. For everyone else eating gluten shouldn’t cause any health problems.

The positive side of the gluten free diet

A gluten free diet can go two ways. Some people go on a gluten free diet eating products that are inherently gluten free. They choose other grains that don’t contain gluten, eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and eat mainly unprocessed products. Those gluten free diets are considered to be healthy.

Other people, however, go on a gluten free diet replacing all products that contain gluten with the gluten free version of this product. Gluten free products are usually higher in fat and sugar and contain less fibers, vitamins and minerals than normal whole food. Those gluten free diets are helping the economy but not your health.

For people with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance the popular upraise of gluten free is a good thing. Suddenly there is a whole product line with products that are similar to gluten containing products but without the gluten.

Further reading: The different types of milk

Learn more about nutrition in my book “Making Weight & Everything Else”