What Is Gluten & Is it Bad?

is-gluten-bad

You may have seen this Jimmy Kimmel Live video last week and had yourself a good laugh at the expense of these “health-conscious” pedestrians who are avoiding gluten for various inexplicable reasons.

Jimmy chalks it up to: “Someone in their yoga class told them it was bad.”

But could you have eloquently answered the question?

I would have said something to the effect:

“Um, it’s the stuff in bread that a lot of people are allergic to, and some people avoid it because they think it makes you fat. And uh, it might be a protein…maybe?”

Yeah, I would have made a fool of myself too. And considering the fact that I’m pretty sure it was taped at Runyon Canyon (one of my usual hiking spots), there’s a 75% chance it could have been me with a dumbfounded look on my face for the world to heckle.

I decided that as an aspiring dietitian — and because May is Celiac Awareness Month — perhaps it’s time I figured out a suitable answer.

Ya know, in case Jimmy Kimmel ever bombards Mr. Chow and I at Runyon.

mr-chow-runyon

What is Gluten?

  • A substance composed of two types of protein that is found in wheat’s endosperm (the tissue inside seeds that flour is made from).
  • It gives elasticity to dough, helps bread rise, and provides the chewy texture in grains.
  • It’s found in bread, rye, and barley.
  • It’s sometimes added to vegan and vegetarian products to supplement protein.
  • Approximately 1% of the population suffer from Celiac’s Disease, characterized by an adverse reaction to gluten.

Surprising Products Containing Gluten

products-containing-gluten

  • Soy Sauce
  • Beer
  • Ketchup
  • Ice Cream
  • Imitation Meats
  • Pet Food

Should You Stop Eating Gluten?

With the rise of the Paleo diet and the success of books like Wheat Belly, grains and gluten have become highly demonized.

Some claim that “modern wheat” isn’t as healthy as the grains of the past, and that they’re the cause of everything from obesity to heart disease to IBS.

However, the jury is still out as to whether or not you should ditch grains and gluten if you don’t have Celiac’s disease.

I’m just beginning my journey in the world of nutrition, so I’m not ready to take a definitive stance on the issue. I will say that gluten seems to work for me. I’ve tried gluten and grain-free diets with no results, and I recently tested negative for Celiac’s disease.

If you have Celiac’s disease or you’ve noticed adverse reactions to gluten products, by all means, cut it out. You have to.

If not, I wouldn’t suggest ditching wheat just yet. You’re not going to lose weight by just removing it from your diet (if that’s your goal).

There are no studies that showing gluten causes weight gain, and many gluten-free products on the market are crap — definitely worse for you than a nice, chewy Ezekiel English Muffin (a.k.a the reason I wake up in the morning).

If you’re still trying to figure out if gluten/grains work for you, I have several grain-free recipes (that taste like their starchy counterparts) to keep you satiated while you decide:

Cauliflower Fried Rice:

cauliflower-fried-rice

Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers:

southwest-stuffed-bell-peppers

Cheesy Creamy Avocado Pasta (also Vegan):

creamy-cheesy-avocado-pasta

Ramen “Noodles”:

chicken-noodle-soup-wide

Cauliflower Pizza:

cauliflower-pizza-single-3Enjoy!

Weigh In: How would you have answered Jimmy Kimmel’s gluten question?

Comments

  1. Sometimes I really think this gluten-free thing is more of a fad than anything. I think people just go ahead and start eating gluten free because everyone’s doing it, not necessarily because they have a true medical health reason. I like certain gluten free foods, but I’ve certainly not cut it out of my diet. I think it’s all about moderation!
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted…8 Things I’ve Learned About MyselfMy Profile

  2. Great post! I have long been an individual who repeatedly got annoyed by all the people going “gluten free” especially just to lose weight. The nutritional value of many of the processed “gluten free” foods are just terrible. However, I have adopted a gluten free life over the last month due to some thyroid issues I have been having. After A LOT of research there is a strong link between a gluten sensitivity (note: not allergy) and thyroid problems. So I figured I would give it a try. This is not something I plan on doing forever but I think its important to learn about your body and take care of it. We will see how my experiment goes!
    Kim @FITsique recently posted…How To Fit Flexible Dieting Into Your LifeMy Profile

  3. It drives me insane when people say they are gluten free but for no apparent reason. I do believe that unless you are making your own bread with whole meal flour or buying it from the farmers market – the bread found in stores probably isn’t the best for you because it has been highly processed and stripped of the valuable nutrients and vitamins.
    Tatum | EATS From The Oil Patch Blog recently posted…Carbs & Soup Are Totally My Thing.My Profile

  4. I don’t remember seeing that cauliflower “fried rice” on your blog…I can’t wait to try!! Actually…all of those recipes look delicious!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. While I am not on a GF diet accidentally I eat mostly GF because I find it healthier especially trying to lose weight with hypothyroidism. Cauliflower pizza crust…so good!
    Maria @ The Good Life recently posted…island flavors: quinoa spaghetti limone parmiggianoMy Profile

  6. I definitely got a nice laugh from the Jimmy Kimmel video but I would have made a fool of myself too. That said, I know I don’t need to ditch gluten and am quite a fan as you are 🙂
    Brittany @ Barr & Table recently posted…Foodie Friday: Green Monster Protein Shake {No Protein Powder}My Profile

  7. Amanda C says:

    Great post. I’ve been having stomach problems for about 10 years. When information. about celiac disease and gluten sensitivity became more well known, my GI advised me to try the elimination diet. It completely changed how I feel when I eat. Because so many people do it as a fad diet, it makes me feel like I have to explain myself because people seem to “judge” me when I say I’m gluten free, which is frustrating. I say eat the bread if you can! (That’s what I miss the most.) Thanks for sharing!

  8. That video was hilarious. I am not GF, but I do limit my wheat intake simply because it makes me BLOAT like a whale and I feel like a BLOB! I hate it, because I REALLY FREAKING love bread…
    Brittany recently posted…$36 vs. $36My Profile

  9. Thomas Cuscia says:

    This whole “gluten” thing is redic. Its going o create more kids with celiac problems that never would have had them if the “trendy” parents were just a bit more normal. I have tons of friends in Germany, France, Spain ect…NONE of these countries have all the crazy problems we have. “Eat a peanut and you will die? America is crazy” one said. Personally I blame FLOTUS and Jenny McCarthy

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