It seems as if nowadays, almost everyone is blindly shunning gluten, hearing word of its evils gossiped throughout the health-conscious community but not quite sure as to why it is so very heinous. In fact, it seems as if the vast majority of trendy socialites who are going “gluten-free” are not all too sure why, exactly, they are! A study conducted in 2013 showed that up to one-third of American citizens are actively working towards totally eliminating gluten from their diets2. What is gluten, and why are we as a nation beginning to entirely turn our backs on this long-loved dietary staple?
Gluten is the general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley1.
Wheat gluten is predominantly found in:
- Baked goods
- Salad dressing
Barley gluten is predominantly found in:
- Malt vinegar
- Food coloring
Rye gluten is predominantly found in:
- Rye breads (such as pumpernickel)
- Rye beer
Some individuals, including those who suffer from celiac disease, are gluten-intolerant – meaning they cannot properly break down gluten during digestion. Gluten intolerance is fairly common; seeing as it is estimated that 1 of every 141 American citizens suffers from celiac disease2. However, gluten seems to have gotten a bad rap – even amongst those not suffering from celiac or any other gluten intolerance.
As it turns out, gluten is not really so “bad” after all! Eating gluten-free is both costly and inconvenient, and those who do not have celiac disease will likely not be harmed by consumption of wheat products. In fact, consuming a gluten-free diet when not necessary can potentially do more harm than good. Those eating diets free of gluten and not suffering from a wheat intolerance are likely missing out on nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber that they would otherwise be consuming as part of a regular diet3. Committing to going completely gluten-free means entirely altering one’s diet, seeing as wheat products make up a significant amount of foods within the standard American diet. For those suffering from celiac disease or any other severe gluten intolerance, eliminating gluten is essential – for those who have never experienced any negative side effects directly resulting from gluten consumption – think twice before jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon!
Yours in Good Health,