"Gluten is crapppp anyway!"


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On April 9, pop star Miley Cyrus took to Twitter to defend herself after speculation arose that she was suffering from an eating disorder. Cyrus said in a tweet that her weight loss was a result of cutting out gluten and lactose from her diet. "For everyone calling me anorexic I have a gluten and lactose allergy," Cyrus said. "It's not about weight it's about health. Gluten is crapppp anyway!"

Cyrus isn't the only one to hop on the gluten-free bandwagon. Other celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Zooey Deschanel eat gluten free as well. Even Chelsea Clinton had a gluten-free cake at her wedding in July. Although popular among the stars, the trend of cutting gluten out of one's diet has become popular with everyday people for improving overall health. But what is gluten and is it really evil?

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Nutritionist and journalist Karen Ansel describes gluten in her article, "Is Gluten Bad for You?," as a protein found in the grains wheat, barley, and rye. Most of us unknowingly love it because gluten gives our favorite foods that special touch: It makes pizza dough stretchy, gives bread its spongy texture and is used to thicken sauces and soups.

Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach Cassandra Damiris said in her article, "Gluten: The Root of All Evil?," that gluten is derived from the Latin word for 'glue' and contains a protein called gliadin. Gluten is found in not only wheat, but also grains like rye and barley, as well as foods and beverages such as beer, soy sauce, licorice, many salad dressings and malted chocolate milk powder.

According to Damiris, the reaction of gluten on the small intestine is thought to be the root cause of most autoimmune diseases, like Celiac disease. According to the article "Will a Gluten-Free Diet Improve Your Health?," written by Carina Storrs, Celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population and experts estimate that as many as 10 percent have a related and poorly understood condition known as non-celiac gluten intolerance (NCGI), or gluten sensitivity.

Although not as intense as the symptoms of Celiac disease, people with gluten sensitivity have similar symptoms. These symptoms include abdominal bloating and pain, vomiting, weight gain, fatigue and joint pain. People who are diagnosed via biopsy for Celiac disease cannot consume any gluten in their diets, whereas people who suffer from gluten sensitivity can in some cases consume gluten in moderation.

Damiris said a growing awareness of gluten sensitivity has led some people who struggle with gut problems but have tested negative for celiac disease to take matters into their own hands and try a gluten-free diet, even though it's an extremely difficult diet to follow. Sales of gluten-free products increased 16% in 2010, according to the Nielsen Company.

"Gluten is fairly indigestible in all people," Daniel Leffler, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School said. "There's probably some kind of gluten intolerance in all of us."

On my two-week break in between summer session and fall semester, I decided to try going gluten-free not because I felt I had a sensitivity to it, but to simply be healthier. After only a few days, I felt less fatigued and I didn't have any cravings for sweets or carbs. Unfortunately, staying gluten-free on campus is not an easy feat because few places offer gluten-free foods and the temptation for foods containing gluten is everywhere. However, because of how great I felt when I wasn't consuming gluten, I would recommend a gluten-free diet to anyone who feels they may have a sensitivity to it. However, if you do decide to go gluten-free, Dee Sandquist, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association says to select more fruits, vegetables and lean meat, and more naturally gluten-free grains like brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat, rather than just buying prepackaged products labeled gluten free.

Sources:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/gluten-free-diet

http://healthyurbankitchen.com/blog/gluten-free-grains-celiac/

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/04/12/gluten.free.diet.improve/index.html

Photo courtesy of:

http://cakelanddesigns.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/chelsea-clintons-wedding-cake/

3 Comments

This was interesting to learn more of the details about G-free diets...I was sensitive to gluten when I was little, and definitely felt better after cutting back on wheat products. I also recently learned that kids on the autistic spectrum highly benefit from a G-free diet. It's weird to think that such a common ingredient is so indegistible for humans.

I will shamelessly admit that the reason your blog post caught my attention was because I could identify the Miley quote right away. But I think it's important that people realize that going gluten-free isn't just some silly trend. It's a good thing that awareness about gluten sensitivity is being raised, however I think it also leads to a lot of misinterpretation. Comments such as Miley's can lead some people to believe that cutting gluten out of their diets is a cure-all solution that can help people shed tons of weight. However, I think it's important to note that benefits such as weight loss aren't necessary due to going gluten-free, but rather the fact that it means cutting out refined carbs in favor of fresh foods and healthier grains that make us feel fuller longer.

I also find this interesting, as it seems like gluten free diets have been becoming increasingly popular. When I was younger (around middle school age) I made a friend who had Celiac disease, and I had never heard it before. It used to be more of a struggle for her to find special foods to eat. Now, it seems like I see gluten free foods everywhere, as more and more people are switching to gluten free diets.

I found this cbs article (link: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57483789-10391704/gluten-free-diet-fad-are-celiac-disease-rates-actually-rising/) which states that, "Nearly two million Americans have celiac disease and should avoid eating gluten, a new study finds. However, as little as a decade ago, virtually no one in the U.S. seemed to have a problem eating the protein that's found in bread and other foods."

The article questions that maybe more people are turning to these diets because it is a fad, or if there is a celiac disease epidemic happening.

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