The gluten-free talk is everywhere, from everyday conversations, to TV ads, to supermarket specialty departments. This begs the question: Are gluten-free foods necessarily healthy? The simple answer is no. They may not be healthy the way most people understand or consume them. To answer this question, let us go to the basics by exploring two fundamental issues.
The first fundamental question is: what is gluten?
Gluten is a protein that is embedded in wheat, which provides the glue or stickiness when wheat products are prepared. While it is a protein, it is not considered to be a dietary source of protein because of how it is embedded in the matrix of the wheat. The health problem that gluten poses is the fact that it has been identified as a source of sensitivity that sets off immune reactions, leading to a multitude of chronic medical problems. Why is this such a problem in recent years? The role of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the wheat industry is a factor but we do not have all the answers. Not all people have sensitivity to gluten but a trial of a gluten-free diet should be considered by most people.
The second fundamental question is: if gluten free foods are healthy, why not eat lots of them?
This is perhaps the most common misconception that people have. A healthy diet is a balanced one, with the appropriate combination of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Most gluten-free foods are carbohydrates by nature. If one eats too many carbohydrates, it is unhealthy, gluten-filled or gluten-free. The prudent consumer must choose foods wisely, with the right balance. The gluten-free consideration is to be made only within the context of the right amount of carbohydrates. Most carbohydrates are packaged in boxes (and some in cans) and are found in the center aisles of the supermarket. Read the labels carefully and make wise choices.
Happy and healthy eating!