The Gluten-Free Fad

As a nation we have officially pinned gluten as the root of all evil. Sugar, low-fat diets, low carb diets all had their turn, but now it looks like the tide is turning once again. Its the next food fad that food manufacturers are cashing in on and what dietitians are excluding from everyone’s diet.  Is it fair or overblown? – In my mind, its fair for sufferers of Celiac Disease, but people without the disease are jumping on another bandwagon.

There is something about the way the news portrays gluten and how supermarkets are offering up “gluten free” options that is leaving a “bad taste in my mouth.”  Its just way to similar to the low carb phase that I really wish never started.  I’m not really defending gluten, but just saying that this fad is being overblown.  Every time these fads happen, people blame all of their problems on this one sole source, when in reality its a combination of factors.

Health food? I think not.

Health food? I think not.

What is Gluten? – Gluten is a protein found in many wheat products, cereals, crackers, pasta, pizza and is even hidden in many products such as  sauce, beer (made from grains) and some soups.  It helps bind flour together and gives it texture, such as pizza dough.  (Note: gluten is found in MANY low carb tortillas and breads to help give texture to the foods.)

Why is bad?If you have Celiac Disease, then even the smallest amount of gluten is terrible for you.  It triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine.  This interferes with vitamin and nutrient absorption and can lead to serious health problems.  This also leads to GREAT GI (gastro intestinal) discomfort and severe bloating.  FOR THESE PEOPLE, gluten is NOT A FAD.  It’s a very real problem and I’m sure they appreciate the extra grocery shopping options.  Although, a lot of whole foods not derived from wheat don’t have any gluten anyway.

Most people don’t have Celiac Disease and never will.  There is a term called GLUTEN SENSITIVE, which is basically what many people claim they have.  Gluten sensitive is similar to celiac disease without the damaging of the small intestine.  In other words, people still get the bloating and discomfort from not being able to process gluten without the severe health problems.

My problem with gluten-free – Like I said, I’m not really defending gluten.  If you truly notice bloating and low energy levels after certain foods then don’t eat them.  I do the same thing with certain foods. Gluten doesn’t make up a large part of my diet on a daily basis, but I don’t exclude it all costs either and I feel like I’m doing alright. My main problem with gluten-free is everyone promising “magical weight loss and energy levels” on a Gluten-free diet, when in reality a lot of people gain weight on it.  Check out this article, 6 Worst Gluten Free Foods.  Food manufactures are preying on people that think Gluten is the root of all evil, so they buy food products thinking these are “extremely healthy.”  The same thing happened in the low-carb phase.  In other words, people here carbs or gluten is bad and they immediately associate that to mean all carb and gluten free products are healthy. – WRONG.

Bottom Line – Gluten free is not a cure all.  You may experience less bloating without it and you also may eat healthier foods in the process of trying to avoid it, but some people give it a little too much credit. In other words, unless you have Celiac Disease then going gluten free may make you “mentally feel better” and produce less bloating, but dont expect the miracles many people are praising it for.   One more thing to note and this is true for many foods that people bash on, (carbs, fats, etc…) anytime you purposefully take a food out of the diet for a prolonged period of time, your body becomes hypersensitive to it (forgets how to process it).  So if you a fan of pizza, crackers, wheat products, bread, beer and other “social” foods, you may want to think twice about just completely getting rid of it.

Sources:

Huffingtonpost.com

Harvard-health.edu

MensHealth.com

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