Monday, December 29, 2014

Is Gluten-Free The Latest Food Fashion?

Is Gluten-Free The Latest Food Fashion?

In the 1990s, we scorned our intake of fat. In the 2000s, carbohydrates were vilified as being the thing that put more weight on our bodies.  Now the food culprit is gluten. Since 2012, gluten-free product sales have risen 63 percent. It's a gold mine for manufacturers. A food label reading "gluten-free" is a guarantee for the product that carries it to become a big seller. Is it the latest food fashion?

What's Your Opinion? Are You Gluten Intolerant?

Do you think you may be gluten intolerant? Is there such a condition? People who have Celiac Disease cannot tolerate wheat and many other grains. But lately, people who have not been diagnosed with Celiac have professed to being intolerant of gluten. Consumer Reports magazine has a new slant on the subject you may find interesting. After reading the magazine, I wondered how my readers would feel about the subject. So I'm leaving it up to you to decide whether you actually have a problem with gluten or if you're a victim of excellent marketing. Read on....

Gluten Free May Be Less Nutritious

Many people believe that gluten-free foods have more vitamins and minerals, but that's not necessarily so. Many foods that are touted as being gluten-free aren't enriched with folic acid or iron. Products that contain wheat flours are enriched with these nutrients. What's more, getting rid of gluten often means adding more sugar, fat and sodium to compensate for the lack of taste in gluten-free foods. Consumer Reports makes this statement:  "A gluten-free bagel for breakfast and two slices of gluten-free bread at lunch means 10 to 15 additional grams of fat." While that doesn't sound like a lot, it accumulates over a period of time.

  Rice: A Mainstay For Gluten-Free Food

Gluten-free products rely heavily on the addition of rice. Eating large amounts of rice increases the body's arsenic intake, providing measurable amounts of arsenic in rice and packaged foods made with rice. Several of these products also contain inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen. In their tests, Consumer Reports states:  "These levels are close to 10 times the amount of inorganic arsenic we think consumers should get in their diets on a weekly basis."

 You May Gain Weight On A Gluten Free Diet
There's no evidence that following a gluten-free food program will help you to lose weight. Studies in the Journal of Medicinal Food have found the opposite effect, because of the tendency for these foods to have more calories, sugars and fat. Consumer Reports says if you've lost weight on a gluten free diet it may well be that you've opted for foods with more fiber. Fiber helps to satisfy hunger and fresh fruits and vegetables aid in the loss of weight and the intake of fiber.

 You May Be Paying More For Gluten Free

In every category tested, except ready-to-eat cereal,  Consumer Reports found that gluten-free foods are more expensive, sometimes as much as double the price. Why should these foods cost the consumer more? The added cost is attributed to the costs the "manufacturer must pay to meet certification and labeling regulations." To me, that seems rather exorbitant for such a small adjustment, considering the fact that gluten-free foods have so many expensive ingredients removed before manufacture. I would think it would have a balanced out effect on the price to consumers.

You Could Miss A Serious Health Condition  

If you're still convinced you have a problem with gluten, see a doctor, have your blood tested to check for the antibodies associated with Celiac Disease. One note of information, if you go for these blood tests, you need to be eating gluten when the test is done to get proper readings. If the test is positive, you will need to have an endoscopic biopsy of your small intestine to monitor any damage you may have already sustained.

You May Still Be Eating Gluten Without Knowing  

A recent study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that out of 158 food products labeled gluten-free, about 5% didn't meet the standards. Although the Food and Drug Administration's gluten-free rule went into effect in the summer of 2014, the standard doesn't require manufacturers to test their products before claiming they are gluten-free. Often, these products are manufactured on the same equipment as wheat or other gluten containing products. It can also happen in the growing fields, when oats are grown in or around fields where wheat was previously grown. A final word on this segment is, that if your gluten-free product contains malt, malt extract, or malt syrup, these are usually made from barley, which is not gluten-free.

 Common Sense Eating 

If you are susceptible to gluten, try substituting amaranth, corn, millet, quinoa, teff and only an occasional serving of rice. Stick with naturally gluten-free foods such as vegetables, fruit, lean meat, poultry, fish, most dairy, legumes, and nuts. Become an avid label reader, and minimize packaged products made with rice or potato flour. Keep an eye out for elevated levels of sugar, fat and sodium.
To read the entire Consumer Reports article, you can subscribe to the magazine at the link below. I hope I've made you do some thinking, and please feel free to leave a comment below.

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