Gluten Free: The Harm Behind The Diet

1298 words - 5 pages

Gluten is a protein found in common grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. Those affected with allergies to these foods (the most serious allergy being Celiac Disease) must follow a strict gluten-free diet in order to experience relief from their symptoms. Despite eliminating the ingestion of the allergen, gluten-free individuals begin to suffer from adverse side effects. In recent years, many Americans have begun to live an entirely gluten-free lifestyle with no medical necessity to do so. Many believe it to be a healthier diet, and even more believe it is an effective weight-loss tool. With this growing fad of adopting a gluten-free diet, under the false pretenses of varying health benefits, many Americans are exposing themselves to unnecessary health risks, over-priced and narrowly available foods, and an overall depletion of dietary needs.
The popularity of a gluten-free diet has risen in recent years due to several factors and misconceptions. A decade ago, gluten allergies were thought to be rare outside of Europe. Now, however, the number of Americans living with an entirely gluten-free lifestyle continues its exponential growth. The statistics of those adopting the diet show a vast combination of people, ranging from those with severe Celiac Disease to those with a desire to lose weight (Sapone). The factors and misconceptions include: the growing number of people with gluten allergies, the idea that gluten is harmful and has no nutritional value, and the idea that a gluten-free diet generates weight loss.
The first factor for the rising number of gluten-free individuals, which is likely the leading cause of the increase, is due to the exponentially growing number of people with a gluten-related allergy. The current statistic shows that one in every one hundred thirty-three Americans is diagnosed with Celiac Disease (Celiac Disease Facts and Figures). When the number of gluten sensitivities and wheat allergies are considered, the number of affected individuals rapidly spikes. Several ideas exist for the increase of reported cases. One, developed and researched by Tammera Karr, shows a link between the current processing and hybridization of wheat. Karr suggests that wheat becomes compromised as it is produced. The unnatural modification of wheat can disrupt the delicate digestive systems, and upset the fine lining of the intestines. When this happens, abdominal pain can occur, as well as bloating, constipation or diarrhea, cramping, and other unpleasant symptoms. Gluten-related allergies are often diagnosed when these symptoms occur frequently enough over a given period of time. Thus, the hybridization of wheat is causing sensitivities and allergies to increase among the population, causing more people to need a gluten-free diet. Another study illustrates the genetic factors behind the prevalence of gluten allergies. Joseph Murray’s research shows that Caucasians are most commonly affected by gluten-related problems, and “family...

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