What Is Up With Going Gluten Free?

What Is Up With Going Gluten Free?

It seems like you can’t buy anything anymore without seeing something on the label referencing gluten. Products such as yogurt and beef jerky now display the boastful label “gluten free,” and the market for gluten free products increased over 30% from 2011 to 2014. You may ask, what does this mean and why are these products becoming so popular? It is important to look at the root of gluten free foods, and the history behind the trend.

When did gluten-free diets start?

In the 1940’s during World War II, researchers and clinicians noticed that mortality rates of people with Celiac’s disease was at 0%. This plummeting of mortality rates for Celiac’s patients coincided with severely restricted access to grain products. As most children during WWII were becoming malnourished on this new diet, children with Celiac’s were thriving like they never had before. Dr. Williem-Karel Dicke wrote a paper about these observations, and thus the gluten free diet was born as a treatment for Celiac’s Disease.

What is Celiac’s disease?

Celiac’s disease is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the small intestine when gluten is ingested, and thus damages the intestine causing excruciating gastro-intestinal pain. The small intestine ceases to work properly because of the damage, and nutrients can no longer be absorbed by the body, resulting in severe malnourishment. When gluten is cut from the diet, the small intestine is able to heal and work properly once again.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a mixture of two proteins found in grains, and is responsible for giving grain products an elastic texture. Removing gluten from products thus gets rid of the protein content and the standard texture and sturdiness.

What are the benefits to eating gluten free if you don’t have Celiac’s disease or any other condition that causes gluten sensitivity?

Nothing. Research has shown that cutting out gluten or grain products without a medical reason can actually cause malnutrition. Most people do not get enough B vitamins and fiber as it is. When grains are cut out they essentially have no way to get these nutrients without a supplement of some sort. Although many people cite cutting gluten out of their diet as the source of dramatic weight loss, researchers have found that this is almost always due to the decrease in calories and sugar that comes along with cutting out grains and nothing to do with the actual gluten. If you simply decide to swap your normal grains for the gluten free kind, it is important to note that this is not healthier. Gluten-free grains have just as much sugar and carbohydrates as normal bread, but lack any protein. Sometimes, gluten-free alternatives are even worse for you, due to added sugar to make up for the more bitter taste.

In conclusion, if you feel you have sensitivity to gluten, it is important to get tested right away. Celiac’s disease and other gluten-intolerant disorders can cause severe damage to the body. It is certainly important to make lifestyle changes right away in order to heal any current damage and prevent any more in the future. If you find yourself wanting to take part in this trendy diet without valid medical reason, however, you may want to think again.