Gluten: Fact vs. Myth


 by Lindsey Herr

The Issue:

Gluten is becoming quite the buzzword around town. The gluten-free diet or gluten-free lifestyle has seemingly come out of nowhere. Gluten is the framework structure that holds starches together- and why bread gets nice and airy. It is a naturally occurring protein in wheat, barley, and rye. Other grains like corn and rice (and a long list of others) are gluten-free. Some people are born with gluten intolerance and others may develop it later in life. However, many people are now choosing to adhere to this diet without having Celiac’s disease- the intestinal problem that the diet was intended to cure. This is where is gets controversial.

The Myth: “Gluten is bad and I should remove it from my diet.”

People seem to think that gluten=bread=carbs=bad. However, the amount of carbohydrates in GF (gluten-free) products is often the same as products made with gluten. (Also, carbs aren’t bad. They should make up about 50% of your daily caloric intake.) If you’re trying to improve your carbohydrate resources- switch to whole grains!

The Facts: Gluten is only bad for people with Celiac’s or gluten intolerances.

If you are lucky enough to be able to digest gluten and gluten products, don’t remove it from your diet! If your doctor recommends it, removing gluten from your diet may help improve digestion problems and even skin issues like eczema. If your doctor recommends adhering to a gluten-free diet, then definitely give it a trial run. However, if you do not have adverse symptoms or Celiac’s disease...there are no added benefits of removing gluten from your diet. To add to that- many GF products add other ingredients like fat and sugars to make up for the flavor lost without gluten.

LifeStart RD, Randi Komisar, says “Aside from a few medically diagnosed conditions (not self-diagnosed), gluten poses zero harm to the body and has absolutely no effect on weight loss. However; the gluten-free market has expanded tremendously and the majority of the gluten-free products on the market are higher in sugar and saturated fat making them unhealthier than their naturally gluten-containing counterparts.”

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