We all know someone who eats gluten-free — probably because they’ve made a point of telling us more than once. It seems as if everywhere we look, we’re bombarded with gluten-free options to nearly everything possible, and droves of passionate social media users telling us why we should choose them.
Popular science website “I F**king Love Science” makes the claim that we may be nearing the end of the gluten-free bandwagon craze. The website reported this weekend that no studies have been able to prove that there are any health benefits of eating gluten-free if you don’t have an intolerance to gluten. “[Gluten-free] products have become extremely popular with the wider public, under an aura of being a “healthier” option,” the article stated.
I won’t deny that gluten-free products are necessary. I have a friend that suffers from celiac disease, and she can’t eat anything containing gluten at all. But I also have a significant number of friends who have never been, in any way, diagnosed as having an intolerance to gluten, but for some reason think that they do.
The craze began when stars like Ryan Gosling and Gwyneth Paltrow were rumoured to be eating only gluten-free, despite being undiagnosed with celiac disease. Since then, it seems as if almost everyone has joined in with the anti-gluten mindset — so many that it’s become a $90-million industry in Canaday with seven million Canadians claiming to eat gluten-free, despite the fact that only 35,000 Canadians are diagnosed with celiac disease. The fad has even caused popular brands including Kelloggs and Campbells to change their recipes to include more gluten-free options.
Celiac disease causes those affected by it to suffer from intestinal inflammation if they eat anything containing gluten. But studies have found that without the gluten intolerance, gluten doesn’t affect the body in any negative way. So essentially, people have been spending the last few years buying supposedly healthier, gluten-free options for twice the price, for no reason.
Maclean’s magazine also reported on the issue, and explained that by leaving gluten out of their diets, people are also missing out on a lot of other essential nutrients, like zinc and potassium. The magazine suggested that the reason gluten-free eaters claim to feel healthier after switching to the diet actually has nothing to do with gluten, but is because they generally start to eat more whole foods and cook healthier as a result.
While it’s good that people are striving to live healthier lifestyles, it’ll be nice to finally have a break from being bombarded with hundreds of reasons to go gluten-free — until the next fad diet, that is.