Why Gluten Free?

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Many people start / join trends and life styles because they want to experience some-sort of change. People may consider type of job, type of car, to even the clothes one wares an attribute to a change in their lifestyle. These changes can be easy or very taxing on while the outcomes for these changes can be drastic or minimal for people. For example, Gluten is a small part of our everyday lives. Many people don’t know what gluten is, nor where to find it— so going gluten-free can be really hard for some. While going gluten-free is not for everyone.

What is this so called “Gluten”? Gluten is a simple protein made up of gliadin and glutenin, found primarily in wheat, flour, rye, and barley. Gluten helps replenish plants embryos and gives our food the stretchy and chewy texture. It mainly act like a glue, that holds bread and other food together to give it its sponge like properties. Gluten is neither detrimental nor supplemental to your health. A well known intolerance to gluten is called Celiacs. A common missed conception,people think since people with Celiacs cut gluten out of their diet to remain healthy they can just do the same. A person with Celiac cannot consume gluten because their body views gluten as an invader causing an immune response which damages the small intestine. To much of this and their body will soon stop absorbing needed nutrients and vitamins causing nutritional deficiencies.

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Recently, mild forms of gluten intolerance and sensitivity has been brought up. These are people who suffer from other symptoms from gluten such as bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, or cramps. This is another reason for going gluten free. Naturally to the majority gluten is not a toxin to the human body nor does it mean that going gluten free is a more healthy, natural, organic, less calorie, fat free, or fresh way of living. Gutting ones diet of gluten when they do not suffer from a gluten sensitivity or Celiacs may cause a nutrient deficiency if done incorrectly. The vitamins and minerals commonly linked to foods with gluten will unnoticeably be forgotten — for example the other nutrients one may gain by eating bread their body will soon be lacking if there is not supplemental action is taken. In gluten free foods that are heavily processed will more then likely have more added fats and sugars to compensate for the loss of “glue” to hold the food together. This FAD for gluten free foods has spread and is now available in more places then ever. Which is great for those who need it but may cause health risk for those who don’t.

Its hard to think there is a good reason or way to go gluten free after everything covered in the previous paragraph. If going gluten free is still the main goal then it is important to to view this gluten free lifestyle / diet more of a natural food diet. Most foods in there natural for are gluten free. The less processed and additives to a product the higher chance of it having little to no gluten. When shopping for food in this new life style it will be best to find your way to the fresh fruit and vegetable wether than the boxed gluten free section. If a medical issue is not an obstacle— it will be best to go with a gluten reduction in your daily diet. Sort of like the 80/20 people like to consider with their budget— one can do the same with their diet. This will be 80% fresh foods with minimal if any processed foods to 20% foods with gluten. This will ensure the necessary vitamins and nutrients are gained.

As established from before there are 2 routes to go when deciding to cut out all or good amounts of gluten from ones diet. Some easy ways to make this transition consist of swiping a quick cookie snack for a couple fresh celery sticks. At lunch time one may swap out fried chicken tenders or the peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a salad lightly dressed with vinegar. These options are very natural, contain very little processed ingredients, while remaining gluten free.

The desire to go “gluten-free” has been the product of a lifestyle change trend in recent years. Lifestyle changes, as mentioned, are not unusual and people do them for various reasons. People change their cars, homes, jobs and clothing styles, all of which are decisions that can be big or small. Lifestyle changes relevant to health seem to be the biggest of all: New Year’s resolutions are mainly about going to the gym, stopping smoking and/or drinking and creating overall healthier eating habits. Gyms are littered and crowded in the first weeks of the new year and many falters. A recent health craze is the gluten-free craze. Food companies are known to capitalize on the latest dietary trend—all carb, no carb, low carb, the cookie diet, etc. The gluten-free craze is just one of many and its mainstream activity is coming from perfectly healthy people opting to eat gluten free. These consumers, to some, are co-opting this craze. For many people, gluten-free is a requirement; these people have celiac disease and cannot consume gluten because of potential damage to the small intestine.

Therefore, it only makes sense for those with serious health risks and conditions to steer clear of gluten. Celiac sufferers must avoid rye, barley, wheat, rice, corn, maize, oats, soy, potatoes, quinoa, etc. They can come down with cramps, diarrhea, bloating and even serious intestinal damage from consuming gluten in even the smalleste of amounts. One in every 133 people had celiac disease in 2003. Turning what is an actual health issue for many people into a health fad that will come and go is inappropriate, unnecessary and somewhat insulting to those who suffer from such an ailment.

Most people do not what gluten is or where it is found in our food. Gluten is a binding agent that allows for the stretchiness and chewiness of food. It is in our breads, cereals, pizzas, pasta and beer. This makes it increasingly difficult to have a completely gluten-free diet. Gluten is even found in some toothpastes, frozen vegetables and “natural” food flavorings. Therefore, going gluten free means giving up many foods, the same foods that would create a serious internal and intestinal disturbance in those that cannot have even the smallest amount of gluten. Going gluten free when not medically necessary also means finding substitutes for foods that would create nutritional deficiencies. Following the diet is an intense burden and to hear people bragging about its virtually invisible benefits is frustrating to celiacs.

Various doctors reporting on the new gluten-free fad say that there are no significant benefits to doing so. Dr. Daniel Leffler, director of clinical research at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston says that people with actual gluten sensitivities may feel better, but for those without? “They’ll simply waste their money,” he says. “[These] products are expensive.” People switch to the gluten-free lifestyle due to its mainstream nature for losing weight, avoiding headaches and autoimmune diseases and the belief that it is a toxin. Doctors advise against people going on gluten-free diets unless necessary because whole grains are linked to various health benefits such as lowered cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, obesity, etc. The irony is that many people are unaware of their gluten sensitivities and celiac disease, but those without it have jumped on the train of going gluten-free. This can be considered a “public health farce” as writers of nutritionfacts.org have put it (Greger, 2016). To speak further about health deficiencies, lots of gluten-free foods have considerably lower amounts of fiber and vitamins, bridging the gap with higher amounts of sugar, says the Wall Street Journal (Jargon, 2014). Those who go gluten-free in search of health benefits often end up gaining weight as opposed to eating a well-balanced diet. A study from Spain demonstrated that a month on a gluten-free diet led to harm of the body’s guy flora and immune function, causing an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines. This goes to show that along with gluten-free, any other “-free” products may not necessarily benefit long-term health.

Public health, while not easy to define, has a central and comprehensive mission. As outlined in the National Institute of Medicine report, public health is meant to fulfill “society’s interest in assuring conditions in which people can be healthy.” Health fads and trends that are normalized by the media hardly contribute to the mission of public health. Now, Americans are more preoccupied with what they eat on new levels than decades prior. Companies are capitalizing on that preoccupation and the media does not help. It is mostly in response to this craze that food companies are creating new gluten-free products, contributing to the cacophony that is American life. People are penciling in eating healthy foods among work schedules because of the desire to eat better being fueled by a fad. Food manufacturers also do not dispute the evidence that going gluten-free is essentially pointless if the consumer has no gluten sensitivity; they are simply responding to the market and are looking to make a profit.
If a person does decide to go gluten-free, it would be best to do so gradually by reduction instead of elimination. Doing this, however, is still not for everyone as there are more drawbacks than benefits in doing so. Having a healthy and well-balanced diets among all food groups, except for fats and carbohydrates, is best to do for making a positive and meaningful change in lifestyle.

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