December 13, 2018

Is a Gluten-Free Diet Healthy?

who should eat a gluten-free diet?

A few years ago, hardly anybody had heard of the word “gluten”. But now, it’s gluten this and gluten that. It has become such a buzzword. Honestly, I question how many people who keep spouting off about it even know what it is. A bunch of sheep, if you ask me.

These days you are hearing about gluten on a daily basis, and the message is always to avoid this component of food at all costs. However, how true is this? Is this just a fad diet? Is there science behind it?

I came across an article recently in the Health section on cnn.com that set out to answer this question, and the answer may surprise you (or not).

Is Gluten Bad For You?

As one dietitian in the article puts it, “That’s the $64,000 question.” If you want to get the answer, here is what they say: going gluten-free is not beneficial for everybody, regardless of how often you hear it touted by celebrities, athletes, and social media influencers.

Who Is the Gluten-Free Diet For?

As mentioned above, this diet isn’t for everybody. Don’t just listen to all the buzz you hear about it and say “Oh, I should try that!” It isn’t a universal weight loss diet or a general healthy eating plan.

Rather, this kind of diet is specifically designed for individuals who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Don’t have either of those conditions? Then this diet isn’t for you. Plain and simple. When a person who has celiac disease consumes gluten, it stimulates a response in the immune system that can cause damage to the small intestine. This has an effect on the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients like carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, etc. When these nutrients do not get fully absorbed, it can lead to a deficiency in essentials that promote better health. Even further, it can lead to osteoporosis, anemia, and other health issues.

When someone with celiac disease avoids gluten in their diet, it gives time for the intestine to heal and more efficiently absorb nutrients. This will lessen the severity and frequency of symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, and stomach pain that celiac disease sufferers are regularly afflicted with.

Why Is It So Popular?

Despite it being designed specifically for those with celiac disease and non-gluten celiac sensitivity, that hasn’t stopped this diet from gaining popularity among the general population. The article states that there were almost $1.6 billion in sales in 2015 in the gluten-free food market, with that number likely higher in the following years. Most of this revenue is due to consumers who have no medical reason to be eating these kinds of foods, and conversely, a good percentage of those who should be following this kind of diet isn’t doing so.

The main reason behind this is all marketing and word of mouth. You see it everywhere. Who doesn’t want to eat healthier? Or at least think that they are eating healthier? Honestly, there just isn’t enough research done on these kinds of things. People just see or hear a celebrity or an influential friend talk about something like this, and it just spreads.

The moral of the story is this: if you don’t have one of the conditions described in this article, there is no need for you to go gluten-free. In fact, it comes with risks like nutrient deficiency.

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About 

T.J. LaPanta is a Florida based aspiring comedian and health nut.
When he's not trying to hack his way through a post-graduate degree, he's slaving away in the kitchen, working out, or trying to score a date.

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