So you’ve heard about Gluten and Gluten free diets and are considering going on it just because you think it’s healthy, or maybe you see that others lose weight on this diet or claim increased health and clarity of mind. Well before you jump into this diet with both feet let me tell you a story.
Back in the day there was the low fat diet, then after a decade or so there was the low carb and Atkins diet rush and now we have gluten free diet. Do you think it’s a coincidence that gluten free diet started gaining popularity right about a year or two after Atkins diet came around?
If you answered yes, you might to want to look up the term “Elective Affinity” in sociology. It’s basically a way to market the same idea using two different methods. The same strategy was applied in mid 90s to dietary fat intake and hesitation from dairy products and animal fats such as butter and cholesterol rich food and at the same time promoting the Mediterranean diet and olive oil soaked recipes. Elective affinity is a proven method for creating a market and then catering to it, providing the customers with an illusion of a choice, while pushing your product for great profits.
If you do suffer from the Celiac disease or you have gluten sensitivity issues, you should be concerned and yes you should be taking all gluten sources out of your diet. But the 12 Billion dollar gluten free market is not where you find the answer. Research has shown that patients suffering from Celiac disease were as equally intolerant to mass produced gluten free products.
Studies have shown that even after two years on gluten free diet, patients still had elevated markers of gut inflammation. Aside from what we know from the result of this research there are two main issues with gluten free diets.
Most obvious one is cross contamination of gluten free products by gluten rich products, since in most cases these products go through the same manufacturing line as their gluten free counterparts. Now you might think that’s a small percentage of exposure should not cause a concern and does not fall under the category of contamination, however the amount of gluten exposure for patients to suffer adverse effects is as little as 50 milligrams. So as you can see this possibility is not farfetched, as matter of fact 41% of the gluten free food is contaminated with gluten.
The second issue with gluten free diet is that most people think just by excluding the usual suspects (wheat products such as White Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Durum Wheat, Graham Flour, Wheat Germ, and Wheat Bran), they are gluten free. But the truth of the matter is that most people are unaware of all other products that have gluten in them. Just have a look at the following list:
Broth in soups and bouillon cubes
Breadcrumbs and croutons
Some lunch meats and hot dogs
Modified food starch
Seasoned chips and other seasoned snack foods
Seasoned rice and pasta mixes
Vitamin and mineral supplements
And the list goes on.
What you should know is that Celiac disease only affect less than one percent of the population according to center for celiac research at university of Maryland. Based on the same research, for every one person that test positive for gluten intolerance, nine individuals are not intolerant. Yes that’s a big percentage of negative results, which not surprisingly consist of a greater percentage of females between ages 30 to 45. The same demographic that is aimed for by most other fad diets that promotes the fear of food. To makes matters worst most individuals that “think” they are gluten intolerant, are not actually tested for this problem and general belief is that if you think you are gluten intolerant and you are experiencing symptoms associated to gluten intolerance such as bloating, low energy level and headaches, etc., common symptoms to most diseases known to mankind, then try going gluten free and if you felt better then you must have been gluten intolerant.
That’s a flawed reasoning since any time you eliminate a food category from your diet for a prolonged period of time, your body will down regulate the secretion of hormones and enzymes that were required to handle that food category. Afterwards, when you decide that you want to give that food category a try, you’ll be experiencing some discomfort, since your body needs to get up to speed to be able to digest and use the new food category, which in this case is interpreted as evidence that prior assumption of being gluten intolerant is actually true.
Now you might think to yourself, it can’t hurt if you switch to a gluten free diet just because it sounds healthy, but you could be wrong. Aside from the discussion I pointed to in regards to creating food sensitivities by eliminating food items, you could suffer from another side effect by following a gluten free diet and it could affect your gut flora and makes your more susceptible to overgrowth of harmful bacteria and infections. What you also need to remember is that just because a food items is labelled as gluten free, it does not make it a healthy choice or low calorie. A stroll down the cookie isle of your local Walmart should highlight this point.
So here is the moral of the story is to keep your eyes open for reoccurring diet fads in the market and have in mind that your best is always balanced diet and moderation. If you think you are gluten sensitive, the first thing you should do is to contact your doctor and arrange a test before you start a self-prescribed diet.