As our society becomes more food conscious, we're introduced to more new-age health trends that sound like they would make sense, when really they don't.
Now the biggest dietary trend is going gluten-free, even if you and your family haven't been advised by a medical professional to do so.
It's not only health food stores that are stocked up in gluten-free foods, but you'll also find these dry, crumbly, stale breads, spaghetti and cookies in regular supermarkets.
It's puzzling as to how this diet became so widespread in the U.S., since very few people are diagnosed with the disease.
It's estimated that more than 100 million Americans are trying to cut down on gluten, and more than 10 million households are gluten-free. However, only 1% of the U.S. population suffers from the agonizing condition, celiac disease, which requires those individuals to avoid gluten from their diet.
What's marketed to be good for your health may not be making much of an impact at all.
According to health experts, there is "no evidence" that avoiding the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley are doing you good, and in some cases, it may be doing you harm (like exposing you to high levels of toxic metals.)
Dr. Suzanne Mahady from Monash University wrote in a piece for The Conversation that avoiding cakes, biscuits, crackers, and beer is likely the reason why many report positive effects from adopting this diet, but it may not be benefiting your overall health.
"Gluten-free foods are frequently perceived as a healthier alternative, because of a alignment with a 'wellness lifestyle'. Recent large studies have not found health benefits for a gluten-free diet, and in fact the opposite may be true."
"Of course, naturally gluten-free products such as plant-based foods, ancient grains and dairy are all part of a healthy and balanced diet. But there does not seem to be a health benefit for the processed and packaged gluten-free replacements over wheat-based versions," she added.
Mahady said only those diagnosed with celiac disease should stay clear of those proteins.
"For people without celiac disease, there’s no evidence to support claims a strict gluten-free diet is beneficial for health. It’s even possible the opposite is true, and the avoidance of dietary whole grains resulting in a low fiber intake may be detrimental."
A study done last year by the University of Illinois suggested that gluten-free diets are full of arsenic, which is a known cause of cancer, and have traces of mercury, which is another deadly chemical.
Brown rice, for example, contains high levels of arsenic that resides in the outer coating, which is removed in the production of white rice.
Mahaday said these food fashions are nothing new, and there's no telling if these markets will continue to expand or diminish.
"Consider the popularity of low-fat diets in the 1980s, when butter was a villain. Now butter is now back in vogue, with sales increasing," she said. "Similarly, red wine used to be considered protective for cardiac health, but guidelines for safe alcohol consumption now recommend reduced intake."
How often do you eat gluten-free foods?
[Source: Daily Mail]