I keep hearing this word being thrown around and put on labels on food packaging due to this implicit association with “health” and “weight loss”. Bus does everyone know the facts behind “gluten”? I for one had to type this word into my search today and really read up on it. In actuality, going gluten-free doesn’t mean you’re going to lose weight or that you’re even eating healthier. Let’s look at the definition first.
Wikipedia defines it as “Gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue“) is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. The prolamin and glutelin from wheat (gliadin, which is alcohol-soluble, and glutenin, which is only soluble in dilute acids or alkalis) constitute about 80% of the protein contained in wheat fruit.”
What started the whole gluten-free awareness is an autoimmune disorder called Coeliac disease. It is found in 1% of all Americans. People with this type of disease have severe allergic reactions to even a gram of gluten. As a result, their diets are limited and need to be closely controlled in order to avoid gluten-laced foods.
I can understand the difficulty people with Coeliac disease must experience and so it’s wonderful that more and more gluten-free products are surfacing. What I strongly advice though for everyone else, gluten-free is not for you! They’re not necessarily healthier and better for you.
My parents often tell me about their childhoods. They ate what today’s health conscious people raves about – millet, barley, whole wheat and legumes. Sugar and flour was a rarity. What was the result? They just didn’t have enough to eat and were often suffered malnutrition. My mom would often faint before lunch time due to hunger during her growth period. Her breakfast consisted of a bowl of congee, a bun, and salted cabbage.
So my point is this, the healthiest diet is learning how to balance our food intake. You should eat enough variety of food to get the right building blocks for your body. Eat the whole wheat breads, the brown rice, the fruits and vegetables, the lean meats and seafood and eat them in portions that’s just right for you. Instead of encouraging manufactures to eliminate gluten from wheat, let’s encourage them to stop over-processing our food.
I also wanted to share this delicious Chinese “gluten” food product I love eating and is good for you. It’s called 面筋 in Chinese and it is literally gluten that’s been cooked and sometimes preserved in a jar.
- Gluten-free making you fat? (foxnews.com)
- Gluten Sensitivity: What we know is that we know very little (fooducate.com)