It is often hard for the designers and copywriters of 341 Studios to switch off our creative brains—even at the grocery store we tend to zero-in on the design of product logos or the wording on the package. One of the most common labels by far is for “Gluten Free” products, which we will admit, seem pretty enticing as a healthy alternative especially with beach season upon us. As it turns out, May is National Celiac Awareness Month—perfect timing for an informative blog on the gluten-free craze, written by our friend and registered dietician, Carol Wilder-Tamme, and accompanied by a selection of great gluten-free labels.
Gluten Free…Maybe Not the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread for Everyone
Carol Wilder-Tamme, M.S., R.D., L.D.
A bit about the gluten-free craze:
Popular diets come and go: Hollywood Diet, Paleo Diet, Atkins, Green Tea Diet, and the list goes on! Ideas about what is good and bad for us also change. One of the current popular trends is to follow a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free advocates believe that avoidance of gluten can improve health by reducing “toxins”, assisting with weight loss, or just providing an increased sense of general well being. Celebrity endorsements of gluten-free diets have also helped to drive its popularity. Unfortunately, enthusiasm does not always equal science, as these beliefs are not proven by research, and not equivalent to the sound information one can obtain from a registered dietitian.
Who really needs to follow a gluten-free diet?
People with Celiac disease must follow a strict gluten-free diet all of their life. Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder where consumption of gluten causes severe small intestine damage. Now, gastroenterology specialists largely agree that “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” is also a reality for some patients who test negative for Celiac disease. It is recommended that you see your doctor and discuss your symptoms prior to eliminating gluten from your diet.
What is gluten? What is a gluten-free diet?
Gluten, a protein that provides texture and structure to bread and pasta is found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is also used as a thickener and stabilizer in many processed foods. A gluten-free diet (avoidance of wheat, rye, and barley) is not best for everyone, as it may needlessly lower ones intake of important nutrients. Oats, while gluten free as an ingredient, are often avoided on gluten-free diets because oats may come in contact with other gluten-containing grains when processed.
Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten intolerance is real, but not everyone has it or can benefit from a gluten-free regimen. A medical diagnosis is recommended before embarking on a gluten-free diet.
Carol is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, and health blogger who specializes in gluten-free, active lifestyles. Her Nutrition Fresh blog features fresh, natural options and streamlined food prep. Follow Carol on Facebook and Twitter.