Gluten Free Rises

Junior Robert Morrison, a gluten free student, shows that gluten free food has spread as far as the Miramonte vending machines.

M. Rogers

Junior Robert Morrison, a gluten free student, shows that gluten free food has spread as far as the Miramonte vending machines.

Meghan Rogers, Staff Writer

In the past year, the protein complex gluten has risen to infamy. This is because the popular gluten free diet is popular among both students and adults alike.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale, products of which are very difficult to avoid.

This is a problem for people who actually need to have a gluten-free diet as medically directed. This diet is a must for people with diseases such as celiac disease, endocrine disease, dermatitis, and others. Many are burdened with specific gluten allergies as well. However, many people without these problems have been committing to the diet.

Talk of the diet started to spread when it was said to be considerably healthier than the average diet and would help with weight loss. This could be rooted to the fact that many markets stock gluten free products because of the rise in gluten free people. This is then assumed that it is healthier.

But in reality, gluten free diets can be very unhealthy. Those who have a medical requirement for the diet need to take many multivitamins to make up for lack of vitamins in the diet. Gluten itself doesn’t have any nutritional benefits, but many whole grains containing gluten do. The diets are severely lacking iron, calcium, vitamin D, fiber, and virtually all of the B vitamins.

It is recommended that one half of all carbohydrates in a diet come from whole grain products. By entering the gluten free diet and not being careful about vitamin intake, you are putting yourself at risk for malnutrition.

Instead of helping lose weight, gluten free products can result in weight gain. The gluten has to be replaced with something, so gluten free foods tend to be higher in fat, calories, and sugar, and are lower in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Those who use the diet often see weight loss, however, because they are cutting back on junk food and white flour products.

Approximately one percent of Americans have Celiac Disease, the primary disease that requires a gluten free diet. However, Celiac Disease often has few to no symptoms, so only five to 10 percent of cases are diagnosed in the United States.

The condition is caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten, and can damage the lining of the small intestine. This can prevent important nutrients from being absorbed.

Therefore, many people, once going gluten free, have an automatic energy increase. This could also be a factor in the idea that gluten is bad for you.

Junior Janey Berger’s family chose to go gluten free because her father felt better when he ate less gluten. After trying the diet herself, Berger was able to say the same.

“I wouldn’t call it a diet because it’s a life change. There are times where I’ll eat gluten but for the most part I’m gluten free,” Berger said. “I feel more energetic and less tired without it.”

However, junior Robert Morrison has medical reasons for picking the gluten free diet, and has been following it for one year.

“I’m really weirded out about the gluten free craze,” Morrison said. “The food isn’t nearly as good. Why would you do it? I feel like this is just a hipster thing that’s going to fade soon.”

It is true that gluten free food isn’t as tasty as food with gluten. It is also considerably pricier. However, the gluten craze has been beneficial to those who medically need to be gluten free.

“When I became gluten free about three years ago it was so hard to find gluten free foods,” senior Mica Zimmerman said. “Now there are aisles and aisles.”

Whether you decide to go gluten free is up to you, but it is important to take precautions when embarking on the diet unless medically instructed by a doctor.