Is Gluten-Free Really The Way to Be?

By: LINDSEY MURRAY

Edited by: ARYA ROERIG

If you’ve been paying attention to the celebrity gossip mill lately, you have surely noticed that ex-Disney star Miley Cyrus has tightened and toned her already petite figure. Following the attention that Cyrus received after her weight loss, she took to Twitter to explain that she acquired her smaller frame through a gluten-free eating plan and encouraged her followers to do the same. Since then, the gluten-free diet craze has spread like wildfire. Experts, however, are feuding over whether or not cutting out gluten is really a healthy option.

According to Jacqueline Mallorca, the self-proclaimed “gluten free expert,” gluten is a part of a protein that is found in wheat, barely, and rye products. This means that in order to avoid gluten, you would need to cut anything including these ingredients out of your diet. Unfortunately, wheat flour is found in a huge variety of foods, including pizza, cereal, and donuts. While it would definitely be a smart choice to rid these items from your diet, gluten is also found in many healthy items such as wheat bread and whole grain pasta. Karen Ansel, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Today.com that by reducing these healthy gluten-containing items, it can result in a diet that is low in iron, zinc, and vitamin B.

Another problem with going gluten free is that many dieters often chose replacements that have very little nutritional value and may cause them to gain weight. Food industry consultant, Rachel Begun, explained to Today.com that high processed gluten-free foods tend to be higher in fat, calories, and sugar than the gluten items  they are replacing. She also warns that many gluten-free foods lack fiber, which is an important component of managing weight loss and feeling full.

So, when is a gluten-free diet a healthy option?  According to Jacqueline Mallorca, those who have been diagnosed with a disorder called celiac disease, like Miley Cyrus, suffer a toxic reaction when ingesting gluten products that may cause medical problems including retarded growth, type 1 diabetes, anemia, infertility, and lymphatic cancer. The only cure currently available is avoiding gluten in its entirety, which, given the increase of wheat flour in packaged foods, is no easy task. However, with the popularity of the gluten-free diet increasing, many more options are becoming available for people who suffer from celiac disease. Mallorca disagrees with the criticism that the gluten-free diet is facing and believes that, if it is done the right way, a gluten-free life can trim your waistline and your overall food spending. She suggests cooking fresh and avoiding processed ingredients in order to gain the most long-term health benefits.

While experts may disagree on whether going gluten free is really as healthy as celebrities are claiming, they all agree that choosing this lifestyle must be done with caution.  The gluten content in a food will make no difference if it is highly processed and filled with unhealthy ingredients. If you are looking for a diet that will quickly make you drop weight, then going gluten free is not for you. The best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle is staying active and eating balanced meals, whether they are gluten free or not!

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