Gluten-free and its myths

Gluten-free food options are being offered for more common-place foods, often at higher prices than normal.

Photo by Zoe Nguyen
Photo by Zoe Nguyen

“Is this gluten-free?” A question we are hearing a lot more than ever before, but are people really making a healthy choice by ditching the gluten?

Most people have heard of gluten and the “dangers” it poses, however it is questionable if people really know what gluten is.

In short, gluten is one of the most heavily consumed proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. Its main purpose is to act as the glue that holds your food together; the chewiness of bread and the elasticity of pizza dough is all thanks to gluten. Often what comes to mind is a horrible, destructive and fattening substance that we should not be consuming, so naturally a gluten-free option is seen as being healthier.

Maintaining a gluten-free diet is appropriate for those who have an intolerance to gluten. People with celiac disease have an abnormal response to gluten, which causes damage to the small intestine and failure of important nutrients to be absorbed.  Only one per cent of the population suffers from the disease, so why are so many people obsessed with being gluten-free?

Gluten-free options have become increasingly popular over the last year, mainly due to the fact that people perceive it to be a healthier option. When you walk through the aisles of the grocery store, I can promise that you will see an array of gluten-free products and the people buying them most likely have no idea what gluten is. There are gluten-free baked goods, beer, cereals, salad dressings and even gluten-free dog food.

Gluten has become synonymous with being unhealthy when that’s not always true.

For all you gluten-free lovers out there get ready to be mind-blown. When you give up gluten and you don’t have intolerance to it, you may actually be losing out on many health benefits.

Although gluten itself has no nutritional value, the foods that contain it do. According to the Wall Street Journal, saying no to gluten also means saying no to extra fiber, iron and a ton of vitamins and minerals.

Gluten-free may just be a fad that will die out or it could actually turn into a cultural and social trend. If you are choosing to be gluten-free because you think it’s healthier, it’s time to rethink your choices. Eating and living a balanced life is the way to go, but not when that means sacrificing vital nutrients to do so.

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