Zoe | Wilson

The trending gluten free diet has many people assuming it is a healthier choice to grab something with that fancy “Gluten-Free” sticker. There are many misconceptions about this diet, especially because it can increase risk for becoming overweight. Find out the facts about gluten before you decide to ditch it.

Gluten is simply a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. Digesting these proteins for people with celiac disease can damage the lining of the small intestine and cause major irritations. Experts estimate about one percent of Americans have this celiac disease. There are no pharmaceutical cures for it, and the only existing treatment for its symptoms is a gluten-free diet.

While only a small percentage of the population actually need a gluten-free diet, marketers estimate that about 30 percent of consumers want products that do not contain gluten, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. There are no medical recommendations or clear reasons to eliminate gluten in diets for people who do not have celiac disease. In fact, choosing processed foods that use alternative substitutions for gluten, such as adding in more sugars, sodium, or fats, can be more harmful than the food’s original recipe .

April Parker, a senior majoring in political science, was diagnosed with a gluten allergy. Parker does not recommend a gluten-free diet for those not allergic to gluten because she thinks, “Making food gluten-free takes a lot of the nutrients out of the food. I think the best way to lose weight would be to cut out all bread, but not all carbs!”

The rule of moderation definitely applies to eating gluten, as it would for any food. It would not be healthy to over consume gluten-containing products since a lot of them have simple carbohydrates and sugars. These are digested so quickly that it will make someone hungry faster, therefore causing them to intake more calories that could cause weight gain, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

Not eating gluten is not necessarily the healthiest option. For starters, gluten itself doesn’t offer any special nutritional benefits, but the actual whole grains that contain gluten are rich in different vitamins and minerals. Studies revealed foods with whole grains have the ability to reduce risks for heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

Nutritionists recommend that a healthy diet should have carbohydrates make up about half of the calorie intake. Choosing the right carbohydrates will give your body the fuel it needs to have an energetic day. Meeting this dietary goal is a lot more difficult without eating gluten because it eliminates the majority of American food.

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