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DIGESTIVE HEALTH

Going Gluten-Free: Worth the Hype or Just a Fad?

 

Remember when ‘low-carb’ foods were all the rage?

These days, the ‘gluten-free’ section inside your grocery store is the new hot spot.

“Gluten is a protein that occurs in wheat and wheat products, so things like spelt, rye and barley,” said Dr. Peter Bongiorno of Innersource Health in N.Y.

“When our bodies see the gluten, it needs to break it down, and it takes fairly strong enzymes to do that.

Some people are sensitive to gluten, which means when the gluten protein gets into their digestive tract, the immune system sees it and creates a response to it.”

Over the past several years, going gluten-free has been promoted as a way to boost health and energy, lose weight or as a coping method for attention deficit disorder and autism.

“I think in many cases, people are eating way too much (gluten),” Bongiorno said. “People are starting to notice that when they take the gluten out of their diet, a lot of symptoms for different conditions that they have tend to disappear.”

Those conditions include:
- Depression and mood problems

- Eczema

- Fibromyalgia

- Chronic fatigue

- Irritable bowel syndrome

- Headaches

So should everyone say goodbye to gluten in their diet?

“I think it's a little bit of a fad, but I think there's good reason for it,” Bongiorno said. “Any food that you eat constantly and continuously, after a while your body starts to say ‘no more’ and starts to creat an inflammatory reaction to it. I would say if you're looking at your diet and you see yourself eating gluten two or three times a day, then it's probably worth getting rid of it for a little while. It'll probably have beneficial effects.”

Most gluten products are “empty calories,” according to Bongiorno, so cutting them from your diet will also help you lose weight.