Why Gluten Free Diets aren't Always the Answer
My opinion on gluten-free eating tends to sit right in the middle of the two camps, as there is both credibly negative and credibly positive reviews and research on the subject. First of all, before I get into any reviewing, I am really excited that so many gluten-free options have come out for those who have Celiac Disease and gluten allergies, as they now have more choices than they ever did before. Coming from someone who has multiple food allergies, it is so incredibly amazing to walk into a grocery store and have choice, and I think that is a real positive of crazes and movements, like the gluten-free craze.
On the other hand, I think a craze is exactly what gluten-free is, the way crop tops or feng shui or Miley Cyrus are a fad or a craze; exploding in popularity for a while before dropping right back to obscurity where we found them. In a couple of years, I'm almost certain that there will be another food "trend" that will be extremely popular and gluten-free diets will continue to be only for those with real gluten intolerance. Anyone remember the Atkins diet? Cut out most carbs (aka gluten) for weight loss and improved health. Sounds fairly similar to what we are experiencing now. Similar idea, new shiny name.
My continued interested in food and culturally crazes was spiked when I read an article in Macleans magazine called, "The dangers of going gluten-free," by Cathy Gulli, which, in my opinion, presented a very fair and balanced look both the positive and negative effects of going gluten-free.
The conclusion that I have come to about a self-imposed gluten-free lifestyle is that people are believing themselves to be healthier when cutting out gluten, but continue to eat unhealthy, packaged foods, thus cutting out even more nutrients they could have been getting in their diet. When they could instead, decide to eat more fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole wheat flours and a generally healthier diet. This group, coined the "gluten avoiders" cut out gluten for a variety of reasons; to lose weight, celebrity influence, popular blogs and books such as Wheat Belly. The book Wheat Belly, by William Davis, makes some points I find very valid. Wheat, as a product, is no longer what it used to be. It is now mass-produced, genetically modified and no longer molecularly similar to the wheat we knew 50 plus years ago.
Thus, wheat, usually refined to the point of no nutrition in white flours, provides little to no nutritional value and is probably a cause of many health issues when eaten in large quantities. But, if someone was to stick to whole wheat, spelt flour, rice flour, kamut flour, the list goes on, they would be able to keep breads and other baked goods in their diets and not suffer any negative health consequences for it.
In my opinion, people who want to make such drastic changes to their diet should do their research and make sure they understand what they're getting into. Consulting a medical professional is also important before making any drastic dietary changes, not just taking Steve Nash's advice; he has a team of doctors and dietitians helping him, he just has to talk about the benefits.
To sum it up, I think people should start eating healthier, my wholesome grains, like spelt or rice flour, instead of buying processed, packaged gluten-free foods with little to no nutritional value. Gluten-free is great for those who actually can't tolerate gluten but if someone is just cutting out gluten to stay trendy, I suggest finding healthier alternatives than cutting out Tim Horton's bagels for three months and claiming improved health.