Going gluten-free is one of the latest trends these days in the food market and among celebrities. Just recently, singer Miley Cyrus claimed that her recent weight loss is due to a shift toward gluten-free and lactose-free eating for health reasons.
Miley is not the only claiming going gluten-free, “New Girl” star Zooey Deschanel has also sticks to a rigid diet that excludes, among other things, wheat because of sensitivity. So do New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees and no.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic, just to name a few.
With so many celebrities and champions swearing to go gluten-free the power of suggestion can become particularly strong. And while Cyrus may be sensible to gluten, her new physique is most likely the result of clean eating and a good amount of fitness.
Before embarking on a gluten-free diet it’s better to understand what really entails cutting out gluten and if it’s something that anyone can do.
Can you be allergic to gluten?
Let’s put things straight once and for all: it’s impossible to be allergic to gluten. People who have difficulty digesting gluten have either a condition called celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
According to the latest data, around 1% of the population is celiac and about 10% have a less specific sensitivity.
Celiac disease is diagnosed through a tissue biopsy, while non-celiac gluten sensitivity is both diagnosed through an elimination diet, although many clinicians have recently raised concerns over this technique as they claim the elimination diet is not an effective way to diagnose the condition.
Going gluten-free: for everyone?
Let’s say you’re not gluten intolerant nor have any kind of sensitivity to it: would it be a wise thing to do to go on a gluten-free eating regimen? According to experts at Kansas State University going gluten-free may be a good choice for some individuals, but not for everybody.
In general, gluten is not bad for the average person. “People have been eating wheat, rye and barley for thousands of years, and there are people who live to be 100 who eat wheat products and don't seem to exhibit any types of health issues” said Mark Haub, associate professor and interim head of Kansas State University's department of human nutrition in the College of Human Ecology.
The thing is that gluten-free diets are now being adopted by people without celiac disease. Haub said that as long as they do their research carefully about the diet, he’s fine with the trend.
"I'm totally supportive of people selecting and choosing lifestyle habits that best suit their needs and preferences, and this would fit that category," he said.
If someone eats more varieties of vegetables and fruits and engages in portion control of other foods, then this type of gluten-free living may elicit health benefits, he said.
However, gluten-free is not necessarily a weight-loss program and can be a bad diet if you are not aware of the things it lacks, such as a sufficient amount of fiber.
Gluten-free doesn’t mean healthy
Also, we should all keep in mind that the fact that a particular food is labeled as gluten-free that doesn’t mean that it’s also healthy.
Take a good look at the food labels; the gluten-free product likely contains as many calories as gluten options. Also they might be overly-processed just to achieve a taste similar to the gluten options, so be careful before grabbing a product from the shelves just because it’s labeled as “gluten-free”.
There are many diets that either exclude or restrain foods containing gluten; such as the Paleo or the Atkins just to name few.
As we have stressed many times around, before embarking on any new food journey make sure that you get the facts straight: is this something that will work for you? Is there any risk for your health? Can you keep it up with it?
What’s most important about it, is that you just don’t start a diet because a celebrity does it!
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