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Going gluten-free?

Diet trends have always been popular. Unfortunately, every time a new one pops up, people end up thinking that the latest diet is the ultimate solution to all their health and weight problems. In the 70s, it was the Scarsdale high protein diet, which promised rapid weight loss in two weeks, making it ideal for engagements and weddings. Next, it was Atkins low carb diet, which focuses on limiting sugar and carbohydrates in order to burn fat and lose weight at the same time. Now, one of the most popular diets is the gluten-free diet.

Going gluten-free?First things first, what is gluten? Gluten is one of the two proteins found in grains, such as wheat. Gluten is commonly found in foods such as bread, cereal and pasta. The number of people following the gluten-free diet has spiked recently. From celebrities to teenagers, everyone seems to be following it.

On top of that, gluten-free products are everywhere. They are readily available at most grocery stores and restaurants. According to a survey conducted by the NDP Group, about thirty percent of adults want to either reduce or eliminate gluten from their diets. However, most people are unaware of the actual purpose behind this diet. The gluten free diet was initially made for people with Celiac disease, a health condition in which the lining of the small intestine gets damaged upon the consumption of gluten. Once the lining of the small intestine is damaged, the absorption of nutrients becomes very difficult. Now for people with this condition, a gluten-free diet is essential to lead a normal life. The question that arises here is: does a gluten-free diet benefit people without Celiac disease?

Going gluten-free?Generally, a gluten-free diet is not advantageous to healthy people. However, it may be disadvantageous to healthy individuals in the sense that it deprives them of sufficient amounts of many essential nutrients that grains contain and gluten-free products do not contain. Whole grains themselves contain fibre, vitamins and minerals. In North America, they can also be fortified with folate and iron. Gluten-free products are often made using alternative refined grains which do not contain the same amount of nutrients. A gluten-free diet may indirectly eliminate many important nutrients from an individual’s diet. Perhaps it is better to think twice before actually going gluten free.  

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Going gluten-free?