Patterns in the realm of dieting, wellness, and eating trends always tend to ebb and flow. One of the most prominent (and questionable) flows of the past few years is the much-talked-about gluten-free approach. Trend addicts: consider yourself schooled!
Let’s start with the basics: What the heck is gluten? Gluten is simply the naturally occurring protein found in many ingredients that are typically used to make, among other things, bread. These include wheat (a big one!), durum, semolina, spelt, rye, barley, farro, and more. Due to occasional intolerances and allergies to gluten, many have taken it upon themselves to eliminate this protein from their diets entirely. This is an extreme approach and could potentially backfire; you aren’t eliminating most carbs and sugars by getting rid of gluten. You are simply avoiding one type of it. What’s more, some additives meant to substitute or compensate for the protein could be even more irritating to your digestive system than gluten potentially would be.
There are plenty of myths surrounding the effects of consuming gluten. Does gluten irritate the gut or throw off the gut bacteria balance in the average person? Does it lead to bloating, weight gain, low energy, or even cancer? Likely not. Some tend to blame gluten for larger health issues because of foods that happen to contain gluten, but also contain high amounts of sugar or other less-than-wholesome ingredients. It is more likely that the causal relationship lies with overall poor diet and lifestyle as opposed to the protein itself.
This is not to say that no one should follow a gluten-free regimen. Of course, those suffering with celiac disease or any other sort of medically diagnosed intolerance to gluten should stay away, substituting with healthy grains and other plant-based alternatives. The bottom line that if any one specific food brand, type, or category bothers your gut, it’s probably not for you. Nonetheless, the average joe (or jane) should feel free to embrace gluten in moderation, and in its healthiest forms, to your heart’s content.
If we’re talking balance, a hearty helping of minimally processed, fiber-and-protein–rich foods, like ROYO bread, is anything but harmful, and yummy to boot. The more you know!
Jasmine Dilmanian is a writer and editor based in New York who always has an eye on the latest in personal health. As of late, she has contributed to the Heavenly Tea Leaves blog and worked with NYT best-selling author and mental wellness guru, Jessica Joines. Jasmine has contributed to various lifestyle and fashion publications including The New Yorker, Town & Country, New York magazine/The Cut, Womenswear Daily, Travel + Leisure, Tablet, and Time Out. Proficient in multiple languages, Jasmine's interests include travel, health, interior design (Instagram: @downfordecor), media, music, fashion, and politics.