These days, those two words have become so synonymous with each other that it seems almost impossible to write one without having to write the other. Fad and diet it appears, are about as inseperable as a newlywed couple on their honeymoon.
But why is that?
Why do diets come and go as quickly as a new music trend or fashion style? Why are they fads? Is it the dieter that is at fault? Or is it the dietician who is to blame? One could argue in favor of both, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that either side is more right than the other.
Take, for instance, the recent Atkins Diet. A diet invented by physician and cardiologist Robert Atkins that he based off a research article published in 1958.
The Atkins diet was known for its limited consumption of carbohydrates to switch the body’s metabolism from metabolizing glucose as energy over to converting stored body fat to energy. Simply put, one did not eat bread, pizza, pasta or anything that had anything resembling carbohydrates while on the Atkins Diet.
The Atkins Diet gained widespread popularity in 2003 and 2004 and at the height of its popularity one in eleven North American adults was on the diet. However, on July 31, 2005, the Atkins Nutritional company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after the percentage of adults on the diet declined to two percent and sales of Atkins brand product fell steeply in the second half of 2004.
This diet is just one example of a fad diet that has come and gone over the past 10 years.
The reason I bring this up is because their is a new diet currently sweeping the nation at this moment.
Of course I’m talking about a gluten free diet.
What is a gluten free diet? Well, gluten is a protein complex found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye and triticale. The gluten free diet does not include any such foods.
Moreover, the gluten free diet came to light as a diet for those who suffer from celiac disease, as a gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease.
For those who do not suffer from the disease, It has been said that, “…there is no evidence to suggest that following a gluten-free diet has any significant benefits in the general population. There is some evidence to suggest that a gluten-free diet may adversely affect gut health in those without celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.”
So with that, why are so many people without celiac disease turning to a gluten free diet in 2013.
According to a New York Times blog, many advocates of the diet believe that avoiding gluten gives them added energy and alleviates chronic ills. Oats, while gluten-free, are also avoided, because they are often contaminated with gluten-containing grains. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, the actress and singer, have urged fans to give up gluten. “The change in your skin, physical and mental health is amazing!” she posted on Twitter in April.
Dr. Stefano Guandalini, medical director of the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center, agrees that some people who do not have celiac receive a genuine health boost from a gluten-free diet.
As with most nutrition controversies, most everyone agrees on the underlying facts. Wheat entered the human diet only about 10,000 years ago, with the advent of agriculture.
As the blog states:
“For the previous 250,000 years, man had evolved without having this very strange protein in his gut,” Dr. Guandalini said. “And as a result, this is a really strange, different protein which the human intestine cannot fully digest. Many people did not adapt to these great environmental changes, so some adverse effects related to gluten ingestion developed around that time.”
Moreover, furthering Dr. Guandalini’s point, some experts speculate that the changes in wheat itself—the hybrid varieties we eat today contain more gluten than the stuff our ancestors ate. Yet we’ve been eating hybrid wheat for a half century.
Another theory is the increasingly popular “hygiene hypothesis,” the notion that a lack of “good” bacteria in the developed world is causing our immune systems to go haywire and target formerly harmless proteins in nuts, grains, and other foods as dangerous invaders—a situation perhaps compounded by our overuse of antibiotics, which destroy intestinal flora.
As one who has latched on to the gluten free diet (not because of celiac disease, but because of weight loss purposes), the digestive changes – in addition to the dietary changes – have been nothing short of spectacular.
Plus, within the framework of a gluten free diet, one trades highly processed foods for fresh food made from healthful raw ingredients.
Now doesn’t that sound nice & refreshing?