The gluten-free trend has been kicking about for some time now. Dietary advice and stories on how to go gluten-free are more than overdone. Now there are articles surfacing on how gluten-free may not be as healthy as we believe it to be.
A recent article in The Independent is one of them, claiming gluten-free diets are linked to type 2 diabetes. As a coeliac for over 5 years and wheat intolerant since the age of 6, I thought it was time I addressed the mistaken perception of gluten being a lifestyle choice rather than an unwanted disease.
For those who do not know, gluten is a protein found in grains and cereals such as rye, barley, oats, hops and wheat. If you’re intolerant to gluten, you are unable to digest these gluten-fuelled grains. You may suffer from bloating, gas or diarrhea as well as as fatigue, dizziness and even constipation. This is also known as coeliac disease.
Some choose to go gluten-free for the sake of living a healthier lifestyle – and I have nothing against that. However, buying into the idea that purchasing gluten-free products will immediately change your health or body is a completely wrong.
Although these products do not have gluten, they are made from other grains (such as rice, corn, potato, amongst others) that often need other ingredients, additives and chemicals to help keep mould – most of which are not that good for you. Biscuits, cakes, crackers, chocolates, will contain the same if not more sugar than gluten products.
Erasing gluten from your diet may be a healthy lifestyle if you were to make your own bread, as it would if you bake normal gluten bread. However nowadays our crops now are treated with all kinds of pesticides and fertilisers, and the purest form of the grains are hard to find, let alone buy. As philosopher and natural medicine blogger Damian Brown explained; “farming methods and transportation have resulted in cross contamination”, and it’s hard to tell what is 100% pure.
Take for example a nutritious morning porridge made of oats, a grain that is normally considered gluten free. The process they are harvested in, treated in and stored in are what makes it contain gluten. It is the chemicals and treatment of our food that we are intolerant to. Health, it makes money.
With the recent financial crisis we have somewhat recovered from, it comes to my surprise how people, especially youth, spend money on trends. An ordinary loaf of bread from a supermarket may cost you between 50p to a pound, whereas a gluten free loaf will cost you minimum three pounds – that’s more than three times the price!
So why are people willing to spend that extra money? With social media trends are more influential than ever. People follow trends and the market follows the people – we all know money makes the world go around.
That said, if any dietary trend encourages you to ready beyond the label and broaden our perspective and approach to food, great! After all they do say, you are what you eat.