One of the most heavily consumed proteins on planet Earth, gluten has become a dietary phantom that has made its way out of our most common foods in the last decade. Gluten free products are more easily accessible than ever with major food companies such as General Mills, Betty Crocker and even Frank’s Red Hot joining the movement.
Gluten is an obstacle for individuals who suffer from celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder. The consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, triggers agonizing gastrointestinal inflammation and other symptoms for those diagnosed with the disease. The increasing popularity of gluten free diets is seen as both a blessing and a curse.
About a decade ago, many Americans were rarely concerned with gluten-less products. Those with celiac disease have had a difficult time finding gluten free food products. Back then, the products that were gluten free were bland and flavorless. The lack of many options and freedom to eat what you want could have been isolating especially during social settings. The gluten free movement gained momentum as better diagnostic tests were developed to identify celiac disease, making more people aware so that they can change their diet accordingly. The Food and Drug Administration also imposed labeling rules defining how much gluten could be in products labeled as gluten free which further generated curiosity among food manufacturers.
Currently, gluten free products are perceived as healthier for you; however is that really the case? Helen Sanders from Health Ambition, shares the good, the bad and the necessary about gluten. Some research reports that gluten free diets are recommended for those who constantly feel tired, bloated or depressed. The results found that reducing gluten correlates to feeling better or losing weight. This would make sense since wheat is a pro-inflammatory agent which can produce an uncomfortable bloated feeling and undigested wheat can ferment and produce gas. However, studies showing that these symptoms can be alleviated by cutting out excess calories.
Gluten free products are found to be nutrient deficient – low in folate, iron, Vitamin B, calcium, riboflavin, and zinc. In conclusion, gluten is not necessarily bad however it can be detrimental for those with celiac disease or wheat allergies. So, should you try the gluten free diet? I suggest a visit to your physician if you have concerns of having gluten sensitivity or if you have more questions on the diet. Do your research before starting a gluten free diet!