I remember first learning about gluten in my food science class back in, like, 2009. This was right around when I was becoming aware of gluten as a controversial nutrition topic. Understanding the structure and function of gluten as well as potential risks associated with gluten intolerance (celiac disease, especially) really helped me stay grounded during a time when it seemed like everyone was in a panic over the new demon.
I was interviewed for this Self story about a recent study that showed that many people follow a gluten-free diet despite not having celiac disease. I agreed with the other dietitians in the piece that a gluten-free diet is not necessarily everyone’s magic ticket to healthy eating and could actually set you up for nutrient deficiencies if you don’t get address those gaps.
That said, because gluten-free diets often entail cutting crap from you diet, when you combine that with emphasizing whole, minimally processed foods like fruits, veggies, lean proteins, beans, and gluten-free whole grains, it can be a healthy way to eat.
The bottom line is feeling well, and if you feel great without gluten in your diet, awesome! If you feel great on a diet that does include gluten, that’s also fantastic. What I worry about is when someone blindly cuts gluten without examining the bigger picture of what might be causing their symptoms, especially if those symptoms are severe and interfere with day-to-day life. Aside from not getting relief from symptoms, there’s also the risk of missing a potentially important diagnosis or the actual root of a problem. Not to sound all, “Talk to your doctor” (spoken in syrupy drug commercial voice), but getting the medical insight you may need is important.
I should change my middle name to “listen to your body,” but it’s a cliche for a reason! The body is very intelligent—it’s got lots of good information to share with us, and to feel like our best self, it helps to pay attention!
Have you ever restricted a particular food or nutrient in your diet?
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