Login

Gluten Grief


Is gluten the new enemy?

Gluten became the newest nemesis in the healthy-eating community when a handful of celebrities began swearing it off and raving about the benefits of a gluten-free diet—one, of course, being weight loss. Unfortunately, that’s not always guaranteed.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation out there about how this is the new way to lose weight,” says Jennifer Fugo, certified health coach and founder of the Gluten Free School in Philadelphia. And here lies the problem: a gluten-free diet is not a weight-loss regimen.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, so eliminating it from one’s diet means cutting out most breads, pastries and pastas. And when you remove a lot of foods from your diet, it’s not uncommon to shed a few pounds. That’s where the weight loss thing comes from. However, if one cuts out gluten by substituting the gluten-laden items in their diet with products like gluten-free bread, pasta and sweets, it’s most likely making matters worse. The flours used in gluten-free substitutes are highly processed, and many of these products are loaded with sugar to compensate for the taste. Fugo says she has clients with pre-diabetic, metabolic and thyroid problems as a result.

For example, while ginger snaps are usually one of the healthier cookie options, a company called Glow makes gluten-free ginger snaps that contain as much saturated fat as 10 McDonald’s chicken nuggets and more calories than seven Nabisco ginger snaps. Yikes. Not to mention that plenty of junk food is gluten free, such as Burger King’s new french fries, Dairy Queen’s M&M Blizzards and Cheetos.

But people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance haveto cut out gluten. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that destroys the zilli of the intestinal tract and causes many health problems—all of which are ameliorated by a strict no-gluten diet. An intolerance is when the body reacts to gluten as if it were an invader, resulting in symptoms such as gas, diarrhea, constipation, mucous, headaches and mental fogginess. Gluten can take up to four days to clear the body.

So why the recent increase in people needing to ditch gluten? Fugo has a few theories. It could just be that we now know more about it than we once did, and that gluten has always been the unknown culprit of certain health issues. Because wheat is more hybridized than it was 50 to 60 years ago, it’s possible that now more people react to it. Or maybe people are consuming more wheat than they once were.

“Overexposure can cause the body to all of a sudden see that protein as an invader,” Fugo says.

 But going gluten-free can be healthy, if only because it can make you more aware of the foods you are eating, and thus can result in healthier eating choices. The detriment of the gluten-free diet, Fugo says, is that people focus on substitution products and forget that vegetables, fruits and many healthy protein sources are all gluten-free too.

“It’s about balancing out your diet in a way that’s healthy and also gluten-free,” she says.

 

 

Gluten Grief
Dana Ricci - Contributor

Dana Ricci is a recent graduate of Temple University where she majored in journalism and Spanish. She has written about various topics for Be Well Philly, Al Día News, Chemical Heritage Magazine, and Fourteenth Street in addition to other publications. Dana is also in charge of the editorial management of Liberty City Press.  

Read More >>


More articles by this author

Now Streaming28 May 2017
Are online series the hottest shows on TV? When the 65th Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced in July, jaws at the major networks must have dropped. Not only were they competing with premium cable channels for awards, now they had to contend with original series from Netflix, an online video...
Read More >>
Events Around Town28 May 2017
Philadelphia Weekly’s Concerts in the Park Aug. 14, 21 and 28, 6-9 p.m., Rittenhouse Square philadelphiaweekly.com This Wednesday-night outdoor concert series returns to Rittenhouse Square. The free event runs for three weeks, with opening acts starting at 7 p.m. and headliners at 8 p.m. Upcoming performances include: Leana Song opening for Doc Gibbs...
Read More >>

What is Liberty City Press?

Liberty City Press is an independent weekly newspaper distributed by the Philadelphia Multi-Cultural Media Network whose members include Philadelphia Sunday Sun, The Philadelphia Gay News, Al Dia, The Metro Chinese Weekly and The Metro Viet News.

Print Edition

 

Related Articles & Videos

Liberty City Press Photos