We’ve been hearing a lot about the purported evils of gluten lately. A lot more in recent weeks. And, in recent days, it seems the hysteria surrounding what one blogger calls ‘the oldest protein’ has been ramping up to new heights. More and more folks are asking what’s it all about and what’s it to them?
The anti-Gluten crusade has been especially vocal lately, trying to get everyone – not just those with real, honest-to-goodness Gluten intolerance – to forsake foods containing the ubiquitous vegetable protein. Their headlines scream about links to all sorts of dreadful diseases and cringe-inducing conditions from Cancer, osteoporosis and Auto-immune afflictions to Weight Gain and Being Short. Yes, one blog article I read this week insists that ‘being significantly under the average height is often a repercussion of childhood Celiac disease which prevents nutrient absorption during the years when nutrition is critical to a child’s normal growth and development.” Seems like a pretty long stretch, to me.
And the capper to that lengthy, authoritative-sounding article states: “In summary, you do not have to be gluten sensitive or have Celiac Disease to go on a gluten free diet. I personally have seen hundreds of patients benefit from trying this diet for one month or more.” I hasten to note that the author of that article is neither a doctor nor a registered dietician. Not anything else that would allow her to put any impressive letters behind her name to underscore her authority. With no bonafides to back up her assertions, I am forced to consign her views to the realm of ‘urban legends’.
But what about the pro-gluten side?
Common sense says that, unless you are one of the very few people out there who really do have a gluten intolerance, a gluten-inclusive diet is probably healthy for you. After all, Humanity has evolved to eat gluten-rich foods over it the thousands of generations since grain was first gathered and cultivated and boiled up into porridge. Gluten performs many important functions in many culinary traditions around the world and makes it possible to have such everyday wonders as Leavened Breads and creamy Roux-thickened Sauces.It also takes some credit for Beer and other Alcoholic Beverages, which are fermented from sprouted (‘malted’) grains.
When I was at Culinary School, we had to take a course in Diet and Nutrition. The registered dietician who taught the course and the insisted that Gluten was just fine for the great majority of folks (for the reasons I’ve stated above, and others), and that the hype about Gluten (which was already an insistent rumble in the background in the food world way back then) was unfounded. She likened it to the alarmist assertions we’ve all heard about non-Organic foods and non-‘Natural’ foods being less nutritious… But we’ve been through all that before.
The bottom line…
All you’re risking by going Gluten-free is wasting your hard-earned money on foods that aren’t half as yummy or satisfying as their traditional Gluten-inclusive equivalents.
Enjoy your Gluten-inclusive foods! It’s more important to watch the Sugar, Salt and Fat content of your chosen menu items, especially those ‘Natural’ Granola Bars and ‘Healthy’ Sports Drinks!
~ Maggie J.