Once a certain health or nutritional subject has been designated “bad,” it’s almost like the public has already make up its collective mind. And no amount of arguing, counter-studies or even – gasp! – facts can turn the tide, even for decades. “The science is settled!” seems to be the argument, even though science is rarely settled.
Gluten – The Latest Suspect, With Plenty of Predecessors
Two quick examples illustrate this “public opinion tsunami.” In the 1970s, British physician John Yudkin warned about the negative effects of excessive sugar intake. Even though his position was well-reasoned and rooted in extensive research, it didn’t matter. The “experts” determined too much dietary fat was responsible for poor public health. Yudkin’s work is now enjoying a renaissance of sorts. Example two: for thousands of years, humans experienced bouts of fasting, whether because of food scarcity issues, spiritual reasons or otherwise. But modern “health gurus” have preached the conventional wisdom of multiple meals per day for optimum fitness, essentially urging us to “eat our way thin.” After years in the wellness wilderness, short-term fasting programs (like Brad Pilon’s “Eat Stop Eat”) are gaining popularity.
Gluten is the latest “bad guy.” This simple protein found in certain grain products (wheat, rye and barley the most common) has gone through the court of public opinion, and the verdict is an emphatic “guilty.” So, good luck to gluten in the long battle back toward respectability. Just ask the anti-sugar and pro-fasting folks.
Thinking About Going Gluten-Free? Read This First
The gluten hysteria is shaky at best. Of course, some people have wheat allergies and gluten sensitivity issues, so those folks are correct in avoiding the stuff. But what about most of the population, who are able to digest grain products without negative side effects?
According to a NY Times article, about 1% of the U.S. population suffers from celiac disease, the most common form of severe wheat allergies. Yet roughly 33% of people try to avoid gluten. Simple math will tell us that the quest for non-gluten foods has been blown out of proportion by a factor of 33 times what it should be!
Before embarking on a gluten-free diet, consider this:
A gluten-free diet might not be 100% gluten free. Because gluten is a common protein found in many grain products, it’s everywhere. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is ripe with grains, and even if you order a restaurant meal that’s “gluten-free,” it might not be. Small, trace amounts may still be present in your food.
Gluten might not be the culprit. Gluten has been singled out as a negative component of food, but are any individual’s health problems the direct result of gluten ingestion? Poor sleep habits, chronic stress, weakened immune systems – for anyone who hasn’t been specifically diagnosed with celiac disease, they might be looking for better health in all the wrong places.
Your nutrition may actually suffer. No gluten means a large percentage of grains, breads and other foods. Sure, humans went without grains for the majority of our evolution, but they’ve been part of our diet for the past 15,000 years or so – and most people can eat grains with no adverse impact. Going gluten free means eliminating a significant amount of harmless foods, if you don’t suffer from celiac disease. So why bother?
We hope this post cleared up some gluten free myths and facts. Here’s something that’s not a myth: urgent care centers are a smart, affordable option for individuals and families in need of quality medical attention. Visit any one of our Nevada and Arizona offices, or call a Banner Urgent Care representative at (480) 988-9108 to learn more about how we can help.
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