Gluten free…not necessarily…

Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial in leading a healthy lifestyle, according to WebMD. Dieting is not necessarily good, though, especially if you do not know what you are doing.

Many of us have heard of the Paleo diet or seen simple phrases like “certified organic” or “all-natural” on food packages. The newest labels, however, seem to have the words “gluten-free” on them. Before you fall into the gluten-free trend or any other diet, you should understand what it is to stay healthy.

Gluten is actually a type of protein that is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye, according to WebMD. Most people can consume gluten without having side effects. The exception is the estimated one percent of people in the world who have Celiac Disease.

“There’s little point in taking that risk unless you genuinely have celiac disease,” the American Dietetic Association website states. “Eating a healthy gluten-free diet means paying constant attention to what you eat. This isn’t something that anyone should do casually.”

Though gluten itself has no nutritional benefits, the foods that contain it do, WebMD says. These foods are often enriched with vitamins, minerals, iron, and fiber. Hence, many nutritionists do not recommend a gluten-free diet.

Going gluten free can be harmful to those who usually eat foods with gluten in them. This is because people eliminate whole categories of foods they have previously been eating, like wheat, which leads to a major nutritional deficiency.

Regardless, many Americans choose to buy “gluten-free” foods because they falsely believe eating gluten leads to weight gain. Thus, it is common to see “gluten-free” potato chips, even though potato chips do not even have gluten in them. In other words, the packaging is redundant.

“Choosing gluten-free foods has another drawback,” the American Dietetic Association says. “Most gluten-free alternatives, such as pasta and bread, are significantly more expensive than their conventional counterparts.”

Though the surplus of “gluten-free” foods is beneficial for those with Celiac Disease, it holds no obvious benefits for most people. Next time you go grocery shopping, be sure to avoid buying expensive foods with redundant packaging. Make sure you properly research diets and fads that are blown up in media before blindly following them.

MHS Union

MHStheUnion is run by the beloved journalism class of Milpitas High School. The Web and co-web editors are in charge of this site. “Love us, and rejoice.”

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