Health Tip – Apr. 1 – Farewell to Gluten-Free: Don’t Be Fooled By Pseudoscience or Marketing Gimmicks When It Comes to Food

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Dee Dee - Health Tip

Dee Dee – Health Tip

Gluten gives fresh bread its pull and chew. A complex protein, it is to baked goods as tannin is to wine, more a feel than a flavor, but a key part of the sensory magic. It makes cereals satisfying, pasta al dente and crackers crisp. Bagels bounce on springs of gluten.

But gluten has lately acquired a famously bad reputation among trend-savvy nutritionistas, who blame it for everything from irritable bowels and autoimmune disorders to bloating and lethargy, even diabetes, depression, autism and schizophrenia. A whole industry has risen up to capitalize on its wholesale rejection, in which gluten-free foods are often sold at a massive mark-up over “regular” products.

But cracks are appearing, not so much in the medical science, which for the truly gluten-intolerant has made major strides in lockstep with the trend, but in gluten as the pop cultural food obsession du jour.

From nearly nothing a decade ago, by 2012, the Canadian gluten-free market was worth nearly half a billion dollars. But a forecast by industry watcher Packaged Facts suggests the market has now “peaked.”

As a shortcut to health for the busy modern eater who does not have celiac disease, the rise of gluten free was a function of people wanting simple solutions to complex problems. That’s just human nature. It’s not laziness. It’s fitting into the desire for ease: ease of thought and ease of implementation.

The problem is that when you try to tell people they are fooling themselves by, for example, buying bread without gluten in it is any healthier, they react as if a foundational belief has been threatened, not just a dietary preference. People treat food like religion. People really want to be right when it comes to the way we eat.

Part of the popularity of gluten free is an almost nostalgic desire for simplicity in the face of unprecedented food options, a wish that can be spoiled when big business gets involved. Any time a box needs to convince you the contents are healthful, they’re probably not.

From the fringes to the mainstream, like all trends, gluten has caught on, taken off, and is now starting to lose its street cred. Once a medical cure, it has become a lifestyle, a puff phrase, an advertising gimmick, a clueless self-deprivation of the perpetually cleansing, epitomized in the nutritional absurdity of the bunless burger.

Some people are truly sensitive to gluten, but the majority of people are not. Please follow the directions from your physician when undertaking a particular diet change to treat any condition. What most people really need in their diet is basic, fresh, unprocessed food. Fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meat, healthy fats and all in moderation is the key to good health. Avoid the fads.

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