Going gluten-free

By Emily Arentzen
March 18, 2014

I am in no way, shape or form an expert on how the body works or how different foods affect our bodies. As far as I am concerned, if it fills me up and does not make me sick or gain weight, it is okay to eat. Recently, a new diet fad has been trending to the point where something that was once only available in specialty stores for a small population can now be found on your Girl Scout Cookies order form.

Gluten free diets are no longer strictly for those who suffer from celiac disease. Instead, many people are ridding their lives of gluten in an effort to become healthier. While I see no personal benefit from it, I looked into why some people may want to take up such a lifestyle.

To those with sincere allergies to this protein, going gluten-free is a must. However, from what I found, it appears that a gluten-free diet is similar to a low-carb diet or simply watching what you eat.

In an article posted with the NY Times online, a formal debate was presented where multiple writers presented their opinions about the topic and supported their claims. The one that resonated most with me was written by an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Darshak Sanghavi.

Sanghavi essentially stated that while it is not necessarily harmful to the body to give up gluten, it is not harmful to not do so either. In fact, in his debate, Sanghavi stated that “gluten-free diets often aren’t very healthy.”

Going into this research, I had no prior assumptions as to what a gluten-free diet even was. I merely thought of it as a new trending lifestyle choice. After reading up on the topic, I now have formed my own opinion of it.

To me, a gluten-free diet is nothing short of merely watching what you eat, for those who do it as a personal preference rather than medical. For those who are restricted to gluten-free diets, it is a completely necessary part of their life. However, as a personal choice, it is really only meant to cut out certain foods from your diet that may have some negative effects.

I know of a few people who have taken this dietary path and tip my hat to them. The amount of restraint it takes to completely cut out a very common ingredient in many foods is not something to be taken lightly. If I were forced to give up the kinds of foods that contain gluten such as pasta or bread, about 85 percent of my diet would be washed away.

From what I took from the research that I conducted, I came back with one main piece of information. If you do decide to undergo such a lifestyle, it is important to look deeply into it and understand what the diet entails. Do not go into it with preconceived notions that you have not really followed up on your research and make sure that there will be no negative repercussions to this decision.

To read Sanghavi’s full statement see Before Going Gluten-Free, Make Sure It’s Necessary.

Emily Arentzen

Junior communication and English double major in transition to becoming a biology minor. Student ambassador for the Cabrini College office of admissions, co-news editor, member of Alpha Lambda Delta.

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