Wish Upon A Dish: Are we eating food trends for all the wrong reasons?

January 3, 2013

Are we eating food trends for all the wrong reasons?

I think that information is a good thing but too much can be bad. Case in point.....over the holiday I ran into the daughter of a friend of a friend. Seems her daughter only eats gluten free foods. When I asked her when she was diagnosed, she informed me "Oh, she doesn't have Celiac's, she just thinks eating gluten free is healthier for you". What??????? It was time for some research.

I found this article over at The Huffington Post blog, written by Susan B. Dopart, M.S., R.D.,C.D.E.

"So, what's the real story? Will going on a gluten-free diet improve your health or help you lose weight? The answer is that it depends. Limiting your intake of gluten means you are cutting out many starchy, refined carbohydrates, and that in itself can help your weight and health. Eating gluten-free, however, is a must for those with celiac disease, who face real risks from ingesting gluten.

What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye products. Most cereals and breads contain gluten. Examples of gluten-free grains include brown or wild rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat and amaranth.
What is not widely known about gluten-free products is that they still contain the same number of carbohydrates as their gluten-containing counterparts. In this regard, there is no health benefit to choosing the gluten-free versions.
For example, a typical slice of gluten-free bread contains 15 grams of total carbohydrate -- the same amount as a regular slice of bread. A snack of gluten-free crackers can contain 30 grams of carbohydrate per serving, the same as regular crackers.

The seriousness of celiac disease....
So why avoid gluten in the first place? For those with celiac disease, their health demands it. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease resulting in a true intolerance to gluten. If someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it causes the villi, or little hair-like projections that move food through the gut, to atrophy. This atrophy can cause bleeding, malabsorption of nutrients and other health complications.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than two million (or one in 133) people have celiac disease. However, only about 1 percent of the population has actually been diagnosed. To get an accurate diagnosis, you need a blood test and/or small bowel biopsy to determine if there is atrophy in your gut.

Gluten sensitivity -- difficult to diagnose.....
Research shows that another 39 percent of the population may be susceptible to having celiac or gluten intolerance/sensitivity. Some experts believe gluten sensitivity exists, but no research or tests to date are available for diagnosis. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity are diffuse, and can include headaches, fatigue or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In addition, there is a small amount of research showing that gluten is associated with some forms of inflammation in the body for those with auto-immune diseases such as diabetes or Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Your body knows best....
Many who go on a gluten-free diet may lose weight and feel better, but it has nothing to do with avoiding gluten. Just cutting out starchy, processed forms of carbohydrate or limiting carbohydrate intake helps with lowering insulin resistance, which leads to weight loss and improved energy.
If you have celiac disease, eating gluten-free is your only option. If you believe you have gluten sensitivity, going on a gluten-free diet is worth exploring. For the rest of us, there's no need to follow the trends of what is currently in vogue with food manufacturers. Eating simple, unprocessed foods according to what your body can tolerate is the best way of eating."

I did some more research, this time on IBS. This is what I found out.....
It seems that IBS is caused by FODMAP's.
FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides And Polyols. They are known to cause GI discomfort in susceptible individuals and more and more research has been proving that a low FODMAP diet has widespread application for managing functional GI disorders such as IBS and IBD.

Unfortunately, FODMAPs are present in many plant based foods which means there are limited options for vegans and vegetarians who want to follow this plan.

Researchers from Australia have come up with a novel approach for IBS treatment, that of having patients follow a low FODMAP diet as a way to reduce IBS symptoms. They have coined the term FODMAPs to describe a collection of short-chain carbohydrates found in many common foods. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols.

The FODMAP theory holds that consuming foods high in FODMAPs results in increased volume of liquid and gas in the small and large intestine, resulting in distention and symptoms such as abdominal pain and gas and bloating. The theory proposes that following a low FODMAP diet should result in a decrease in digestive symptoms. The theory further holds that there is a cumulative effect of these foods on symptoms. In other words, eating foods with varying FODMAP values at the same time will add up, resulting in symptoms that you might not experience if you ate the food in isolation. This might explain the mixed results of studies that have evaluated the effects of fructose and lactose, two types of carbohydrates, on IBS. Ongoing research is being conducted as to the accuracy of the FODMAP theory and the effectiveness of the diet for IBS.
 If you are interested in following a low FODMAP diet, it is essential to work individually with a licensed nutritionist. There are risks to devising your own diet. It is tempting to pick and choose certain items based on your personal preference which could result in continued symptoms due to a lack of strict compliance to a sanctioned low FODMAP diet. Working with a trained nutritionist will also help to ensure that you receive adequate and balanced nutrition including a healthy intake of dietary fiber.
Other things to consider before starting a low FODMAP diet: research into its effectiveness for IBS is at a very preliminary stage and it is unknown at this point if following such a diet would be safe for your health over the long term. As with any new treatment or dietary approach, it is always best to discuss the issue with your own personal physician.

How does this help a diabetic? Around 25% of diabetics do have Celiac's Disease. Only way to find out is to get tested but it is well known that wheat products are not good for your blood sugar, so it can't hurt to eat some gluten-free foods. Diabetics will experience gas while starting a diabetic friendly diet due to the intake of more beans. Gas does not mean you have IBS. The only way to check that out is by elimination of FODMAP's in your diet.

Yes, all this is way to much to process, and I don't think that you should eliminate any foods unless you have too due to medical reasons or personal choice. As always, I feel certain that portion control is the real way to eat. Totally cutting out foods you love for the sake of a diet, will often lead to binging and in the end, defeat.

That is something we all can chew on.

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