gmhTODAY 12 gmhToday Jan Feb 2017 - Page 93

Health Wise with Crystal Han BEFORE TEN YEARS AGO PEOPLE RARELY GAVE THE SUBJECT OF GLUTEN MUCH THOUGHT. NOWADAYS, GLUTEN HAS BECOME THE ULTIMATE CULINARY VILLAIN, RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING FROM CHRONIC FATIGUE TO CANCER. GOING GLUTEN-FREE HAS BEEN LAUDED FOR HELPING PEOPLE LOSE WEIGHT, IMPROVING THEIR HEALTH, AND CURING THEIR PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL AILMENTS. FOR PEOPLE WHO SUFFER FROM GLUTEN SENSITIVITIES, OR CELIAC DISEASE THE PREVALENCE OF GLUTEN-FREE PRODUCTS IS EXTREMELY FREEING; HOWEVER FOR THOSE WHO DON’T HAVE THESE CONDITIONS AND ARE GOING GLUTEN-FREE … Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. It serves as a binding agent, helping foods hold together and maintain their shape. Because wheat is one of the main staples of the American diet, going gluten-free not only means giving up breads, cereals, pasta, pastries, and beer, it also means eliminating seemingly innocuous things like sauces, foods containing “natural flavorings,” vitamin and mineral supplements, some medications, and toothpaste; all of which use the binding elements of gluten to maintain the structural integrity of their products. Anytime you eliminate huge food groups from your diet, you set yourself up for nutritional deficiencies. Many whole wheat and grain products are fortified with B vitamins, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, and Magnesium. The fiber you naturally get from whole wheat is said to aid proper digestion and help lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Despite what people might think, many gluten-free products are not fortified with the essential vitamins and minerals present in their whole grain counterparts. More surprising still, studies have shown that a glutenfree diet may actually harm our natural gut flora and immune function by allowing an overgrowth of harmful bacteria to grow in the intestines. This is because the components found in whole wheat act as prebiotics that feed our good bacteria. Additionally, many gluten-free products are derived from rice, which can contain significant levels of arsenic. That means you are more likely to increase the levels of arsenic in your body. One of the biggest claims of the gluten-free movement is that it promotes weight loss. So far, there has been no definitive evidence linking weight loss to the elimination of gluten from one’s diet. In fact, research suggests that it may actually cause you to gain weight. The same way “fat free” foods compensate for a loss of flavor by adding more sugar and sodium, gluten-free foods add more fat, sugar, and sodium to get that extra ‘oomph’ gluten naturally provides. As a result, gluten-free foods will often have a higher calorie count than whole grain and wheat products. Those who claim to have lost weight by going glutenfree could have done so because they eliminated processed foods or sweets from their diet, such as swapping a cookie for an apple or swapping pasta for grains like quinoa. Much like going vegetarian or vegan, there is a right way and a wrong way to eliminate gluten from your diet. Going gluten-free also means you may be spending a lot more money. Research has found that gluten-free products are more expensive than their regular counterparts, sometimes by double or triple the cost. This is probably due to the added costs manufacturers face for certification and labeling regulations. Despite these regulations, however, a number of products labeled as gluten-free still may have more than the FDA’s 20 parts per million of gluten. Manufacturers often use the same equipment to process their gluten products for their gluten-free ones, meaning there’s a risk of contamination. Furthermore, some manufacturers may eliminate gluten from their products but add malt, malt extract, or malt syrup for flavoring, all of which are usually made from barley. That means you may be paying more for something that might still have gluten in it. Much like going vegetarian or vegan, there is a right way and a wrong way to eliminate gluten from your diet. If you truly wish to go gluten-free, make sure to eat a variety of grains, such as amaranth, corn, millet, quinoa, teff, and the occasional serving of rice. Whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, lean meat and poultry, fish, and nuts are naturally gluten free. Be sure to keep an eye out for the sugar, fat, and sodium content of gluten-free products in stores. If the gluten-free diet works for you, try to be mindful of how much you praise it. For the more than 300,000 people in this country with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is a burden. Someone who can’t enjoy a slice of birthday cake at the office or a beer at a get-together might find it extremely frustrating to hear about how wonderful going gluten-free is. Sources: WebMD, NutritionFacts.org, CRYSTAL HAN is a freelance writer and artist. She graduated from San José State University with a BFA in Animation/ Illustration and is an aspiring novelist, currently working on two books. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 gmhtoday.com 93 Health Wise G with Crystal Han luten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. It serves as a binding agent, helping foods hold together and maintain their shape. Because wheat is one of the main staples of the American diet, going gluten-free not only means giving up breads, cereals, pasta, pastries, and beer, it also means eliminating seemingly innocuous things like sauces, foods containing “natural flavorings,” vitamin and mineral supplements, some medications, and toothpaste; all of which use the binding elements of gluten to maintain the structural integrity of their products. Anytime you eliminate huge food groups from your diet, you set yourself up for nutritional deficiencies. Many whole wheat and grain products are fortified with B vitamins, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, and Magnesium. The fiber you naturally get from whole wheat is said to aid proper digestion and help lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Despite what people might think, many gluten-free products are not fortified with the essential vitamins and minerals present in their whole grain counterparts. More surprising still, studies have shown that a gluten- free diet may actually harm our natural gut flora and immune function by allowing an overgrowth of harmful bacteria to grow in the intestines. This is because the components found in whole wheat act as prebiotics that feed our good bacteria. Additionally, many gluten-free products are derived from rice, which can contain significant levels of arsenic. That means you are more likely to increase the levels of arsenic in your body. BEFORE TEN YEARS AGO PEOPLE RARELY GAVE THE SUBJECT OF GLUTEN MUCH THOUGHT. NOWADAYS, GLUTEN HAS BECOME THE ULTIMATE CULINARY VILLAIN, RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING FROM CHRONIC FATIGUE TO CANCER. GOING GLUTEN-FREE HAS BEEN LAUDED FOR HELPING PEOPLE LOSE WEIGHT, IMPROVING THEIR HEALTH, AND CURING THEIR PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL AILMENTS. FOR PEOPLE WHO SUFFER FROM GLUTEN SENSITIVITIES, OR CELIAC DISEASE THE PREVALENCE OF GLUTEN-FREE PRODUCTS IS EXTREMELY FREEING; HOWEVER FOR THOSE WHO DON’T HAVE THESE CONDITIONS AND ARE GOING GLUTEN-FREE … One of the biggest claims of the gluten-free movement is that it promotes weight loss. So far, there has been no definitive evidence link- ing weight loss to the elimination of gluten from one’s diet. In fact, research suggests that it may actually cause you to gain weight. The same way “fat free” foods compensate for a loss of flavor by adding more sugar and sodium, gluten-free foods add more fat, sugar, and sodium to get that extra ‘oomph’ gluten naturally provides. As a result, gluten-free foods will often have a higher calorie count than whole grain and wheat products. Those who claim to have lost weight by going gluten- free could have done so because they eliminated processed foods or sweets from their diet, such as swapping a cookie for an apple or swapping pasta for grains like quinoa. Much like going vegetarian or vegan, there is a right way and a wrong way to eliminate gluten from your diet. Going gluten-free also means you may be spending a lot more money. Research has found that gluten-free products are more expensive than their regular counterparts, sometimes by double or triple the cost. This is probably due to the added costs manufacturers face for certification and labeling regulations. 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