Impacts of a gluten free diet
Despite the absence of scientific proof, the gluten-free diet has continually gained popularity among celebrities and news media with the claims that it aides in weight loss and increases energy. The diet is even beginning to receive more traction for weight loss rather than the medical condition, Celiac Disease for which it is prescribed. We are going to cover 5 impacts of the gluten free diet, laying more emphasis on its impacts on health.
Impacts on health
Many people consider that because food is gluten free, it must be healthy. This is not necessarily true. The biggest risk of consuming gluten free food is the risk of missing out on a healthy diet. Gluten free foods especially those processed to make them gluten free such as rice starch or potato starch cheat consumers out of many health benefits that are contained in whole grains. Such foods are seriously lacking in barley, wheat and rye and may also be substantially lacking in critical nutrients like iron, zinc, fiber, foliate, thiamine, niacin, calcium, riboflavin, phosphorus and vitamin B12.
Unlike the controversial claims of weight lost, decades of scientific research have predominantly shown that gluten containing whole wheat like whole grains contain all three parts of the grain and its consumers are less likely to be overweight or have diabetes and even many forms of cancer like colorectal cancer. For people who eat foods that are inherently gluten free like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats etc, gluten free foods would be healthy for them but if products containing gluten are replaced with highly processed gluten-free foods like energy bars, pastries etc. People who consume them are likely to end up gaining weight as such foods are high in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts.
According to some scientific research, following a gluten-free diet is not recommended for those not diagnosed with celiac disease because it may potentially cause a decrease in the amount of useful bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus in the gut and this can adversely impact the smooth functioning of the immune system resulting in obesityand other health complications.
Impact on the environment
The rise in the popularity and demand for gluten free grains may have helped producers improve their daily lives but these benefits seem to come with environmental consequences. Research by Jager found that the rise of quinoa production in Bolivia meant farmers rarely gave the soil time to recover and they planted crops continuously on slopes and valleys. While these findings may seem true only for Bolivia, it may actually be true for most producers with high product demands. The result is that, the soil gets eroded with time, pests and diseases spread and yields consequently decrease.
Impact on budget
Gluten free diets tend to be more costly than their gluten-containing counterparts. While this may not considerably affect the one who needs it for not so serious reasons such as weight loss, it adversely inconveniences patients with celiac disease for whom it is mostly prescribed. Whatever the case, it will require considerable budgeting to live up to the requirements of a gluten free diet.
Impacts on the community
With growing concerns in the advancement of the celiac disease, many communities have begun reshaping their ideologies and reactions towards the disease by deploying more preventive approaches. While those diagnosed with the disease are prescribed gluten free foods, others see it as a preventive measure against the disease and other health complications.
Gluten-free foods have seen an increase popularity especially among fashion mongers and celebrities who claim it is good for weight loss. This position taken by these iconic individuals has led to an increased popularity of gluten free foods, thus the scaling prices. Its affordability barriers therefore make it a kind of food consumed by a particular social class.