All these X-free diets are slowly but steadily becoming the biggest thing in the world of dieting. They are also also often referred to as Free From lifestyle where people cut a certain ingredient, substance or food group from their diet altogether, not because their bodies react adversely to them, but because they believe they feel better when they do it and that they will be healthier if they make such a sacrifice.
The gluten-free diet is the latest and the most popular type of such a Free From Lifestyle and it is gaining more and more followers with each day that passes. NPD Group did a study in the U.S. and they found out that about 70 million Americans are cutting back on gluten. This was back in 2013 and the numbers have only grown since then. The same is true for other countries in the world. This is not a U.S. fad. Gluten-free is worldwide.
In order to understand why the gluten-free lifestyle makes very little (if any) sense for the vast majority of the population, we need to understand what gluten is and why there is simply no reason why you would want to cut it out of your diet unless you are oversensitive to it.
Gluten is a mix of proteins that are found in wheat and grains from the same family, such as barley and rye. When used to make dough, the gluten in the grains gives the dough its elasticity and also provides the protein content that our bodies need to function properly.
Gluten is commonly found in most breads and cereals, while it is also present in certain foods and drinks where you might not expect it, such as beer or soy sauce. It is also often found in ice cream and ketchup due to its stabilizing properties. You can also find gluten in hair products, cosmetics and other preparations applied to the skin. It is also the most common basis for imitation meats where it can provide supplemental protein to the vegetarian diet.
To put things as simply as possible, unless you are suffering from one of the conditions where ingestion of gluten will cause an adverse reaction in your body, eating gluten will do absolutely nothing bad to you or your body. Gluten is not a harmful substance in any way. It would be the same as cutting out strawberries because some people are allergic to strawberries. It makes no scientific or nutritional sense.
That being said, some people have to cut gluten from their diet because of medical conditions that are either caused or exacerbated by this mixture of proteins. The most widespread of these is the celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which can cause severe digestive disruption when even the smallest portions of gluten are ingested. Other conditions include non-celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy. In people with these conditions, cutting out gluten is not only beneficial but recommended since their conditions can be more or less controlled by avoiding intake of gluten.
One thing that needs to be pointed out over and over again is that these are conditions which can be easily diagnosed and verified by a doctor and which should never be assumed. For the rest of us, cutting out gluten will objectively do nothing. Some people may start feeling better through power of suggestion, but it will produce no scientifically explicable benefits. Moreover, it can lead to a number of problems.
For instance, many people who go gluten-free fail to substitute the vitamins, fiber and minerals that they used to get from wheat, rye and other whole grains which contain gluten. Quite simply put, the majority of gluten-free foods are not fortified enough with iron, fiber, folate and other essential nutrients that we need to feel good. In addition to this, processed gluten-free foods are quite often packing copious amounts of salt, transfats, sugar and other substances and compounds that have a negative effect on the human body if ingested in excessive amounts.
We must not also ignore the fact that the gluten-free lifestyle is quite expensive, especially if you wish to do it right and avoid suffering from deficiencies that we mentioned above. In the end, it all comes down to that. If someone can make money on a fad, someone is going to promote it. That is why we are here. To tell you when you are being taken for a ride. Unless you are oversensitive to gluten and your doctor has confirmed this, eating a gluten-free diet amounts to being taken for a ride.