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Dieters deem gluten-free as the newest trend

Gluten-free foods fill up grocery store shelves. (AP Photo)
Gluten-free foods fill up grocery store shelves. (AP Photo)

By Nicole Natale
Correspondent

Want to lose weight? Go gluten-free. Bloated and tired? It’s definitely that bagel you ate for breakfast this morning. These are the common explanations heard around campus for ailments that most likely have nothing to do with your gluten intake, yet going gluten-free has become the trendy thing to do.

According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, one in 133 Americans are afflicted with Celiac’s disease, which inhibits the stomach from being able to digest gluten. However, WebMD.com said that one in five Americans have completely cut gluten out of their diet. So why do people stop consuming gluten if they are not actually sensitive to it?

Hollywood seems to be overrun with gluten-free celebrities, blaming the protein composite for their weight gain or chronic pain. According to Shape, Jenny McCarthy is convinced it has contributed to her son’s autism and her sleep deprivation, while Gwyneth Paltrow claims it has contributed to her recent weight gain. This simply cannot be true. How have we been eating gluten for thousands of years, but only now it seems to be the main factor in all of our ailments?

For as long as I can remember, Sunday in my house has been carb day. Every Sunday morning, my mom prepares a fresh pot of sauce for a pasta dinner later that evening, while my father picks up a loaf of freshly baked Italian bread from the local bakery.

Bread, pasta, pizza, cake and cookies are among America’s favorite foods. But with the gluten-free trend quickly taking over almost every restaurant and food store, many people are cutting gluten from their diet altogether. Others, including myself, have felt the urge to become gluten-free because of sites like WebMD.com, which warns about the dangers of gluten and how it can cause stomach issues and even an “addiction” to wheat products.

I do not believe this to be true because everything is fine in moderation. We need to stop cutting certain foods out of our diet just because it’s trendy and celebrities do it to lose weight. Only people with a medical reason, like Celiac’s disease, should have gluten-free diets.

Going gluten-free for no reason means saying “no” to many common and nutritious foods, like whole grains. Whole grains contain vitamins and minerals that are an essential part of a well-balanced and healthy diet. They may also lower the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.

On the other hand, I’ve also heard people say that completely eliminating gluten from your diet can do more harm than good, as you run the risk of nutritional deficiencies. According to WebMD.com, gluten-free products tend to be low in a wide range of important nutrients, such as calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and fiber. There is little point in taking that risk unless you genuinely have Celiac’s disease or are gluten sensitive. Eating a gluten-free diet means requires you to constantly pay attention to your diet and can add unnecessary stress to your day.

As someone who chose to be gluten-free over the summer, I can confirm that there was no change in how I felt, except for the constant craving for pizza. The best way to be healthy is to eat well-balanced diets and exercise. Everything is fine in moderation and that includes gluten. The bottom line: next time you want to eat a bowl of pasta, go for it.

Students share opinions around campus

Eileen Hu, sophomore biology major.
Eileen Hu, sophomore biology major.

“I don’t think anything is wrong with gluten… Gluten is yummy and bread is yummy.”

Abhishek Shrinet, freshman biology major.
Abhishek Shrinet, freshman biology major.

“There are a few misguided opinions (about) what gluten is and how it affects the body… People should do their own research about gluten before going (off of it). Gluten-free is necessary for (those with) Celiac’s disease and if there are other proven health benefits.”

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