Growing Fad of Gluten-Free Foods YAY OR NAY !
After the raving trans-fat free diets came the craze for broccoli and then the antioxidants, the current showstopper in the supermarket is ‘gluten free food.’ Let’s demystify this growing food trend.
The idea caught on pretty quickly and soon everybody joined the bandwagon. Now, people are on a gluten-free diet to get clearer skin, treat autism, improve energy levels, decrease cholesterol counts and the list goes long. But are the claims made all factual or is it a rising fad? Does going gluten-free makes us fashionable or help lose weight?
No doubt the gluten-free diet is the only healthy option for people with Celiac disease (allergy for gluten) but what does it do for the majority of us who are just fine with the good old gluten?
Will It Help You Lose Weight?
Umm, yeah. A gluten-free diet will definitely help you lose some extra kilo, just like any other diet would which cuts on an entire basic food group. Cutting down on high-cal food, in general, will help you get lean in this situation, irrespective of how much gluten you’re consuming. Not to mention, you’ll be missing on a lot of nutrients.
Is It Healthier?
By saying no to the gluten diet, you’re saying no to carbohydrates that should be a part of your diet; somewhere in between 55-60 per cent. To add to your FOMO, you’re also ignoring folate, vitamins, fibres, in addition to calcium and iron from your diet. When you pick gluten-free bread over the wholegrain one, do note that you’re bargaining for less fibre and more fat and sugar. Are you prepared for all this?
Whom Is It Really Beneficial For?
People with celiac disease can’t tolerate gluten, not even in small amounts. Just 50 milligrams of the protein—about the amount in one small crouton—is enough to cause trouble. “In people with celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine. “On repetitive attacks, the small intestine loses its ability to gain important nutrients like iron and calcium. Over time, people with this disorder develop deficiencies like anaemia, infertility, osteoporosis and sometimes neurological disorders,’’says Dr Devendra Taneja, Senior Physician & specialist in diabetes management. So for people who are suffering from celiac disease or have gluten sensitivity this diet is a boon.
However, an increasing number of people are adopting a gluten-free diet as a fad. But some recent studies have suggested that doing so may have adverse health consequences, including the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Do You Know?
Avoiding gluten means more than giving up traditional bread, cereals, pasta, pizza, and beer. Gluten also lurks in many other products like frozen vegetables in sauces, soy sauce, some foods made with “natural flavourings, vitamin and mineral supplements, some medications, and even toothpaste. This makes following a gluten-free diet extremely challenging.
After being confined to health-food stores for years, gluten-free foods now show up everywhere. Supermarket aisles abound with products proudly labelled “Gluten-free,” and many restaurants now offer gluten-free options. “People who are sensitive to gluten may feel happier with so many options now available as compared to some years back when the diagnosis also for the disease was not simple. But the larger population may not derive any significant benefit from adopting a gluten-free food practice. They’ll simply waste their money because these products are expensive and they lose on some required nutrients as well.” adds Dr Taneja. The impetus should be placed on awareness and education on the subject.
A related condition called gluten sensitivity or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can generate symptoms similar to celiac disease.
What is gluten? To put it simply, gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten helps to keep the elasticity in food intact while it is fermenting.
Gluten sensitivity can be identified with a blood test for the presence of antibodies against a protein called tissue transglutaminase. A biopsy of the intestine confirms the diagnosis.
This article was first published in the print version of SUBURB April 2019 issue.