Gluten-free: diet trend vs. unwanted disease

A topic that has been vastly shared across all media platforms with the hashtag #glutenfree. Type it on google and you will find diets, recipes and all sorts of advice. What is this ‘gluten-free’ trend all about?

The ‘gluten-free’ diet is often seen as a lifestyle of choice rather than an unwanted disease. If you are new to the term ‘gluten’, it is a protein found in grains and cereals such as rye, barley, and wheat. If you’re intolerant to gluten, you are unable to digest these gluten-fuelled grains. This is also known as ‘Coeliac disease’.

Nowadays our crops now are treated with all kinds of pesticides and fertilisers that back in the day were not used or even known of. 

Erasing gluten from your diet is a good thing, or so they say. But why is gluten so bad for you in the first place? If you’re intolerant, it attacks your immune system and enzymes in cells in your digestive system. If you are coeliac and you eat gluten, you may suffer from bloating, gas or diahrrea as well as as fatigue, dizziness and even constipation.

The most commonly talked-about gluten grain is wheat. Wheat is found in almost anything. From the obvious pasta, bread, pizza, cakes, to foods you may have never thought would contain wheat; gravy, blue cheese, sausages, soy sauce, french fries and even hot chocolate. According to Dr. William Davis, cardiologist, health crusader and author of Wheat Belly, “wheat flour raises blood sugar higher than nearly all other foods.” Organic, multigrain, sprouted – there is no difference. Even more than table sugar, and we thought sugar was our worst enemy…

If we think back in time and how gluten was an un-heard topic, was it because people were not intolerant or because it was an unknown disease? Nowadays our crops now are treated with all kinds of pesticides and fertilisers that back in the day were not used or even known of. The gluten-free diet is something that has only became known as a disease in the last decade.

A nutricious morning porridge is made oats, a grain that is normally considered gluten free. However, today’s “farming methods and transportation have resulted in cross contamination” says Damian Brown, philosopher and blogger of natural medicine and nutrition. Now ‘pure’ gluten-free oats are available in shops. It is the chemicals and treatment of our food that we are intolerant to.

So my question is, how come gluten has become a trend now and not before? Being coeliac is not a cheap lifestyle. Gluten-free products are expensive, at least to the average Joe and it is only been a few years since gluten-free products have become available in shops. An ordinary loaf of bread from a supermarket may cost you between 50p to a pound, whereas a gluten free loaf will cost you minimum three pounds.

With the rise of social media, trends are more influential than ever. People follow trends and the market follows the people. 

Living in a time of economic crisis, it comes as a slight surprise how a disease that decreases the demand for normal grains and flour would become such a commercialised trend. Gluten-free products are pricey, so why are people willing to spend that extra money?

With the rise of social media, trends are more influential than ever. People follow trends and the market follows the people. We all know money makes the world go around. This said, being gluten free leads to a healthier diet on the long run. A diet with fewer processed foods that encourages you to discover and eat higher quality grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, teff, among others. It could be that this trend has broadened our perspective and approach to food, motivating us to read the labels and know exaclty what we are eating. We are what we eat, right?

If you think you are gluten- or wheat-intolerant, or suffer from any the symptoms mentionned in this article, please contact your doctor.

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