In a previous issue I had penned my intense disdain for marketing food buzzwords. And believe you me, “Gluten-free” is a buzzy-word with BIG bucks behind it. An estimate shows that in 2016, the industry will rake in $16billion from this phrase and the products it’s slapped on in the USA.
Folks, let me introduce you to this decade’s “bad guy” – Gluten! Don’t believe me? Take a look at the last 40 years ; it’s like every decade we decide we’re going to demonize a new food group or nutrient. In the 80s it was fats, the 90s saw the anti-carb mania, from 2000 to 2010 we shunned lactose and dairy and here we are today … Gluten crucifiers. I can’t help but ask, “seriously, does anyone eat anything anymore?”
Before you’re swept away by the tide, few facts about Gluten. It’s a protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye, bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt and oats. Gluten on its own doesn’t offer magical nutrition but the foods it’s present in are rich and dense in vitamins, minerals, iron and fiber. Infinite studies evidence that including wholegrain foods in your diet lower the risk of Diabetes, Heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Who needs to stay clear of Gluten? Those with Celiac disease or Gluten sensitivities!
Celiac disease is autoimmune in nature and is one where Gluten aggravates the small intestine’s lining cause massive inflammation, irritation and ‘wear-tear’ destruction. The small intestine’s walls are where nutrients from food are absorbed for the body’s needs and so Gluten for these people can result severe nutritional deficiencies. Symptoms of Celiac disease range from diarrhea, anaemia, bone pain, skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, bloating, flatulence, headaches, irritability and lethargy. But mostly, symptoms don’t present and this makes Celiac disease especially hard to diagnose. Correct and accurate diagnosis is done by a blood test looking for presence of antibodies to Gluten and then confirmed by endoscopy (camera viewing) of the intestinal wall.
Gluten sensitivity on the other hand is the presence of the symptoms above without there being any antibodies or intestinal inflammation and aggravation. This is even harder to diagnose and is done so by a process of elimination. Gluten sensitivity MAY predispose one to developing full-blown Celiac disease but this is not always the case. True Celiac disease prevails at only 1% of the global population.
So why the hype and readiness to give up grains and go Gluten-free? Personally I find it extremely foolish for one who doesn’t need to avoid Gluten to do so. It almost makes you a sitting duck for cancers; wholegrains are nature’s anti-cancer soldiers. Still want to be on trend?
As for losing weight, one does not need to go Gluten-free for that. Cut out all your packaged processed meals, exercise and you’ll notice the pounds dropping like nobody’s business. And guess what? Not only is it healthier but it works out cheaper than paying for the price-tag of “Gluten-free”.
Juggling many roles from physician to writer to pilates instructor to Marketing-PR executive, Dr. Daamini is constantly pushed and inspired to get creative on how to encompass a Retreat into her daily life.