Monday, March 18, 2013

Gluten-free: The New Diet Fad isn't for Everyone

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I read an article the other day that warned people who don't have gluten allergies not to eat gluten-free food. You have to wonder why that warning is even necessary. Only 1% of the population actually suffer from Celiac disease. Celiac sufferers find it very difficult to enjoy certain types of food because of their gluten sensitivity.  They would love to munch down on a cupcake, but have to search for specially-prepared foods or recipes that substitute key ingredients in order to indulge in what 99% of the population eats without a second thought.

So, why would someone who doesn't have a medical condition that makes gluten a forbidden dietary component, go to all the trouble of finding and buying foods that are gluten-free?  I think it's that "-free" suffix. Half of all food on store shelves have been certified to be free of something. Fat-free, sugar-free, cholesterol-free, etc. There's a natural tendency to believe that if someone went to all the trouble to take it out, it wasn't good for you in the first place and the "-free" product is superior to the product that is unadulterated.  After all, who would buy food that was labeled "Fat-Laden" or "Chock full of Cholesterol"?

Yet, with only 1% of the population actually having an inability to properly digest gluten, a full 29% of Americans polled say they want to cut down on the amount of gluten in their diet. 

Leading the way in making gluten-free foods the new fad for people who have absolutely nothing wrong with their digestive systems (no such claim is made for their intelligence) are the dieters. Not just any old dieters but famous ones, such as Gwyneth Paltrow.  Celebrities are often the driving force in ridiculous behaviors and fads, so this should come as no surprise.  And to no-one's surprise, these celebrity dieters are not only completely wrong, they're adopting a fad that is both stupid and potentially injurious to their health.

Eliminating grains from your diet leaves you with a shocking deficiency of fiber.  Since fiber is essential for the proper functioning of your digestive system , it's not a good idea to cut it out of your diet. It's also counter-intuitive for a dieter as fiber helps to speed food through your digestive tract and cut down on the number of calories absorbed. According to WebMD, fiber is good for your heart, lowers cholesterol, lowers your risk for GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), obesity and diverticulitis.Why would anyone with half a brain purposely avoid eating fiber if they didn't have to?  Nevermind, answered my own question.

On the laughable side, these "dieters" don't seem to realize that gluten-free foods are often higher in fat than other foods.  They are likely to gain weight rather than lose it, and get really sick in the process.

There are people who suffer from serious symptoms due to celiac disease and other types of wheat and gluten allergies and sensitivities.  For  vacuous, empty-headed, celebrity mannequins whose main focus is remaining trendy to adopt the gluten-free diet as a fad is simply insulting to all those who live that way not by choice, but because they have a medical condition. And as expected, almost a third of the population has no idea what is going on and is following their lead.