With more and more people becoming health conscious, diets and superfoods have been gaining a lot of attention. One such diet is the gluten free diet, which precludes any foods that contain the protein gluten. Companies that manufacture gluten-free diets advertise them as great options for a tasty diet. When companies advertise these food products, it is often easy to infer that gluten-free translates to healthy. These products are great for people who cannot digest gluten, but not so much for people who can digest it. Gluten free foods generally have more sugar and fat in them, and consequently aren’t the healthiest options.
Gluten is a substance found naturally in wheat and wheat, rye, and barley products. It is the protein that holds dough together and keeps its elasticity. It basically acts as a glue that keeps any cereal food together and keep its shape.
Some people however, have conditions such as wheat allergy and celiac disease that do not allow them to have gluten in their diets. As a result, companies started to manufacture gluten-free food, which have grown vastly popular. People who are able to digest gluten still follow gluten-free diets, and that can actually be detrimental. This is because gluten-free foods have extra sugar and fat, making them less healthy. Gluten-free diets are made specially for those who cannot have it in their diets, and is not really the best option for those who can.
Because gluten is the substance that keeps food together, it must be replaced by other substances that do the same job. Otherwise, many of the common foods we eat would not have the same consistency and would not taste the same. To keep the same elasticity and stickiness in foods, companies add extra sugar and corn syrup to their products. Corn starch is a favorite for companies to add to their products. The material is cheap and effective in replacing the functionality of gluten. This keeps the food sticky and resembles what the food would be like with gluten.
So as a result, these foods contain more fat and sugar. Corn starch for example, is much worse for a diet than sugar. For people who can digest gluten, this is an undesirable outcome.
If you are considering following a gluten-free diet, it’s important to know what you’re getting out of it. If you don’t have a gluten related condition, and just want to lose weight, it’s important to be conscious about what you are eating. Always check the nutrition labels of gluten free foods against their regular counterpart.
If the nutrition facts are not significantly worse, especially in the fat section and the amount of sugar, then you can make the choice between the gluten free or not. Otherwise, if you don’t have a gluten sensitivity, the consequences of eating the gluten free food outweigh the benefits.
Siddharth is an intern at Azumio. He is originally from San Jose, CA and is currently a student at UC Berkeley. In his free time, he loves to read, play basketball, swim, or watch TV. He also enjoys hiking outdoors and cooking if he has the time.
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