I'll Take That Gluten Free Please!

How many of you have heard of the latest trend that we know as GLUTEN FREE? Everything now seems to be gluten free and people automatically reach for that in the grocery store or on a food menu. Hey, we are guilty of doing it too! Why is it that we are leaning towards the gluten free option? Well a lot of you would answer with “because we all know that gluten is a horrible destructive substance to put into our bodies, and consuming even a little will make us overweight right?” No, WRONG! Gluten has become synonymous with being unhealthy when that isn’t the case, besides do you even know what gluten is? It’s time to learn the truth about gluten!

First check out this video from Jimmy Kimmel proving to us how funny this gluten craze really is! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdJFE1sp4Fw&feature=kp

For those of you that were as clueless about Gluten as the people in the video, here is your textbook definition of gluten!

“Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat endosperm (a type of tissue produced in seeds that’s ground to make flour). Gluten both nourishes plant embryos during germination and later affects the elasticity of dough, which in turn affects the chewiness of baked wheat products. Gluten is composed of two different proteins: gliadin (a prolamin protein) and glutenin (a glutelin protein).”

Now that we have that covered we can move on. So, gluten isn’t necessarily bad for you unless you have an intolerance to it like people with Celiac’s disease. A condition, caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten, which causes damage to the lining of the small intestine. That, in turn, can prevent important nutrients from being absorbed. It has been estimated that only 1% of the population suffer from this disease. However, funny enough most of the people who reach for gluten-free products don’t have celiac disease and or even sensitivity to wheat, Peter H.R. Green, MD, says, "The market for gluten-free products is exploding. Why exactly we don’t know. Many people may just perceive that a gluten-free diet is healthier." This preconceived idea that gluten free is the healthier option for us may not be the best way to think.

For starters, going gluten-free means saying no to many common and nutritious foods. Since gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, it also shows up in many whole grain foods related to wheat. These include bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt, and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). Gluten itself doesn’t offer special nutritional benefits. But the many whole grains that contain gluten do. They’re rich in an array of vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron, as well as fiber.

Studies show that whole grain foods, as part of a healthy diet, may help lower risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. This means that we still need to be eating our carbohydrates, and swearing off gluten may not be the best idea for you! Gluten free diets can be low in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, vitamins, B12, phosphorus and zinc. So before you give up gluten try some exercise, or adding more fruits and vegetables in your diet and see if you feel a change in your body that way.

What do you think about the gluten free craze, thoughts, opinions, share them with us!