When you are going gluten-free, it may seem like it’s all good. You may want to read further.
Twenty years ago, my grandmother found out she was celiac (an autoimmune disorder that destroys the intestinal tract). At the time it was a nightmare, as bread and pasta were staples in anyone’s diet. There was no gluten free or vegan alternatives on a restaurant menu. The only solution was to have less pleasure in food and to lose weight due to digestion problems (celiac disease still affects around 35,000 Canadians).
Today, eating gluten free is so popular it is hard to remember the days when people gorged on the breadbasket. It seems like the healthier choice, even for those who have no present-day digestive difficulties. People insist it is what makes them drop the final five pounds and makes their skin glow and their sex life thrive. However, recent research is showing that this may not be true (gasp! Our friends? Exaggerating?).
First thing is first: contrary to modern day beliefs, most people can tolerate gluten (the protein in wheat and other grains). The only way to tell if you are the exception is to consult your family physician. Why not give it a whirl in the meantime, joining the cool kids in the trendy gluten free world? Well, many gluten free or low carb diet have been found to be very nutrient deficient (in iron, calcium and vitamin B12, for starters).
It is worth remembering that processed food is processed food. Gluten free products may appear to be healthy, but can be devoid of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Rice and tapioca flour may be great for celiacs but compared to spelt or whole-wheat flour they have no nutritional value at all. They are the updated version of processed white flour. Some doctors speculate that the weight loss that people experience after entering a gluten free or low carb diet has as more with their giving up fast food and reading labels than it does with a single ingredient. There is a lot of speculation, and a lot that remains to be researched, including whether gluten sensitivity actually exists.
The big story is that gluten free is big business at the present time. From gluten-free Tim Hortons cookies to Eucharistic wafers, everyone is getting on board. However, this doesn’t mean you have to, until you know for sure what works for your body
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