Multiple Health Issues Discourage Gluten in Foods
Celiac disease, a genetic problem that causes the immune system to attack the small intestine where gluten is ingested, is now estimated to affect 1 out of every 100 people worldwide. It can be tracked due to a DNA marker which indicates its presence. The disease has raised awareness for gluten intolerance, paving the way for gluten-free options in food. However, in recent years growing other health concerns, from wheat allergies to lifestyle issues such as healthy diet, have caused a current crusade to at least cut down on gluten-containing foods, if not nip them altogether.
What and Where is Gluten?
Gluten, a protein in wheat which causes bread to maintain form and elasticity, is obviously found in most products of the bakery. What few people would suspect, however, is that it is also found in less conspicuous foods such as certain types of salad dressing. Furthermore, super high amounts of it in the form of “vital wheat gluten” are added to bread that will need to be shipped and have a long shelf life. According to an article by Michael Specter published in the New Yorker, “Bakers add extra gluten to their dough to provide the strength and elasticity necessary for it to endure the often brutal process of commercial mixing.
Vital wheat gluten increases shelf life and acts as a binder; because it’s so versatile, food companies have added it not only to bread but to pastas, snacks, cereals, and crackers, and as a thickener in hundreds of foods and even in some cosmetics. Chemically, vital wheat gluten is identical to regular gluten, and no more likely to cause harm” (Specter). Bread in its natural form already contains gluten, and humans have eaten it for thousands of years. However, the extremely high concentrations of it in the quickly produced, long-lasting bread of the modern age has raised cause for concern, particularly because the protein is hard to digest even for people without gluten sensitivities and can never be fully metabolized.
A Word of Warning for Going Gluten-free
While gluten has been shown to trigger health problems, research suggests the real pandemic may actually be the typically high consumption of the category of foods it is found in, not so much in the actual gluten itself. In an Australian study conducted a few years ago, carbohydrates called FODMAPS showed considerably more cause for concern than gluten, though both were found in similar foods and other foods such as those containing dairy and fructose which are also known for sensitivities.
Furthermore, multiple sources, including Women’s Health and the Huffington Post, raise concerns that gluten-free foods offer false promises for health and weight loss. While there may not be gluten involved, those foods are loaded with sugar and calories- and leave out nutrients. Keri Glassman, a Women’s Health nutrition expert, writes, “If you’re looking to lose weight, there’s not enough compelling evidence right now to suggest you’ll benefit from going gluten-free...If you do decide to eliminate gluten from your diet, keep in mind that gluten-free foods are often low in B vitamins, calcium, Vitamin D, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber- and they can also be expensive. Rely on fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, and lean meats to get the nutrients you need” (Glassman).
At the bottom line, most doctors believe that non-celiac gluten intolerance is real, but rare. Furthermore, a better diet limiting all categories of gluten, sugar and dairy should tremendously benefit most non-celiac people with relatively normal digestion.
Magazines Deliver Healthy Gluten-free Options
Thankfully, there are healthy ways to go gluten-free if needed! Magazines dedicated exclusively to gluten-free recipes and lifestyle advice suggest a variety of options.
- The Gluten Intolerance Group leads the pack with its free online magazine and articles, including publications that cater to lesser covered crowds like kids (Generation GF) and a section of its website devoted to Spanish-speaking customers.
- The Gluten-free Food Solutions Magazine is free and fully digital. It is released every other month, and available on issue.
- Delight Gluten-free offers a year print subscription of six magazines for $24, but releases old copies on a digital format for free. Their website includes articles, blogs, featured recipes, and magazines and cookbooks for sell.
- Simply Gluten-free is more than simply a bi-monthly publication. In addition to print and digital subscriptions running between $26.95 and $44.95 depending on country and medium (or free digital copies of past issues), Simply Gluten-free is also an online source for special diets, including dairy, meat, or sugar-free ideas. It features various articles on topics ranging from beauty to travel. A lifestyle magazine for gluten-free customers and for more mainstream health-conscious consumers alike.
- Gluten-free Living runs six times a year, and subscriptions vary between $35-50 depending on country and medium. The website includes more recipes and lifestyle articles, along with other special features including a weekly newsletter and coupons for those often-expensive gluten-free foods.
- Gluten-free & More lives up to its name by including articles about dealing with all sorts of food allergies from gluten to seafood to dairy and beyond! Its resourceful website is located at https://www.glutenfreeandmore.com, and its magazine subscription includes six issues a year with price ranging between $19-43 depending on country and medium.
- Gff Magazine runs quarterly, with the print subscription for $35 and the online pdf version for $20. Their free weekly newsletter (sign-up on website) features recipes, product reviews, and coupons, and their website hosts more recipes for gluten-free cooks and those with other dietary requirements such as vegan or dairy-free. Past issues, both digital and in-print, are available for sale on their website for various prices.
- Allergic Living Magazine comes exclusively as a quarterly subscription for $19.99 per year. Unique to similar publications, their website is set up in a news format, and always includes the latest buzz and stories related to eating/living with food allergies. It also features articles about more common allergies, like pollen, grass, and pets.
It’s easy to find ideas of how to eat healthy without gluten in the digital age. In addition to magazines, hosts of websites, including the notorious Pinterest, give countless tips and recipes. Gluten-free cookbooks are also becoming more common and probably will continue to grow in popularity as the issue gains more awareness as it circles the outlets of popular culture. Moreover, even sources not explicitly labeled as “gluten-free,” such as diet cookbooks and blogs, offer ideas without gluten as health-conscious writers turn to more fruits and vegetables than to other sources, such as bread and dairy.
“What Is Celiac Disease?” Celiac Disease Foundation, celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/what-is-celiac-disease/.
Barclay, Eliza. “Sensitive To Gluten? A Carb In Wheat May Be The Real Culprit.” NPR, NPR, 22 May 2014, www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/05/22/314287321/sensitive-to-gluten-a-carb-in-wheat-may-be-the-real-culprit.
Glassman, Keri. “Will a Gluten-Free Diet Help You Lose Weight?” Women's Health, 1 Apr. 2013, www.womenshealthmag.com/food/will-a-gluten-free-diet-help-you-lose-weight
Klein, Sarah. “9 Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten-Free.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 4 Feb. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/04/know-before-going-gluten-free_n_4719554.html
Smith, Erin. “Gluten-Free Magazines.” Gluten-Free Fun, 9 Aug. 2017, www.glutenfreefun.blogspot.com/2017/08/gluten-free-magazines.html
Specter, Michael. “Against the Grain.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 June 2017, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/03/grain.