Thursday, September 8, 2011

GLUTEN SHMUTEN...what's with all the hype!?

Nowadays it feels like you can't even step foot into a Trader Joe's without overhearing someone rave about gluten-free this and gluten-free that.  From breads, to snacks, to cookies, muffins, and bagels seems like everything at your local health foods store has a gluten-free option.  What markets fail to explain is why?  Gluten-free diets now have been marketed as "healthier" or "weight-loss" foods.  However, this is simply not true.  In fact, living a gluten-free lifestyle can have nutritional setbacks.  I encourage you all to have a critical eye on the nutrition media, because it may or may not be marketing hype! Here is some myth-busting info to think about: 

Gluten-free doesn't just mean that you give up bread and starches.  Gluten is in everything from bread and pasta, but also hides in many other foods, such as cold cuts, salad dressings, beer, and even licorice.  Basically, it is a very strict diet that is for the purpose of people with Celiac Disease and gluten intolerances.  Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine.  Gluten, a wheat protein, attacks the villi on the lining of the intestine and disturbs absorption.  The lining becomes inflamed and damaged which can cause gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort for Celiac patients.  If they can't absorb nutrients, then their body becomes malnourished.  Therefore, by adhering to a gluten-free diet, their villi can repair itself in a process that can take up to a year for normal absorption begin.  Ultimately, gluten is not "unhealthy", it is solely harmful to people with gluten intolerances like Celiac disease.

If you like the way a gluten-free product tastes, great! I personally love Nature's Path Gluten-Free Panda Puffs and Leapin' Lemurs cereals because they are chocolatey & peanut buttery goodness in a bowl!  Just remember that there is no research indicating that gluten-free diets have any magical powers.  Eat well, eat balanced, and eat colorful :)   
Yours in health,

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