Gluten Free Frenzy - All Hype?

By Peter Maldonado, Mar 07 2013

If you haven't heard the term "gluten free", you've been hiding under a rock.  It's one of the hottest dietary trends to hit the market and it's not showing any sign of a decline in popularity.  

What is gluten and why is it so bad?  

Gluten is a protein that you'll find in just about any processed food product, but mainly in foods consisting of grains.  It's usedin most cases to add protein to food products that don't have any protein in themnaturally.  It's purpose is to improve texture and taste.  

Gluten intolerance is extremely common, probably more than most people know.  It effects approximately 10% of the world's population and over three million Americans.  The symptoms include inflammation of the gut, weight gain, hives, shortness of breath, and a list of digestive issues.  A smaller percent of those people effected are sufferers of Celiac Disease, which is basically a horrible condition in which your digestive tract is unable to absorb particles of the food you eat, which ultimately causes damage to the intestines.  

Foods that contain gluten are also typically processed, which makes them unhealthy.  People are now adopting gluten free diets for more than the issues previously mentioned.  Eliminating foods that contain gluten will help you to lose weight, improve energy levels, reduce bad cholesterol levels and promote overall health.  

Aside from the scientific research supporting the negative impact of gluten on the human body, there are a number of reports from gluten free dieters all across the world that have told their own stories of how eliminating gluten in their diet has improved their quality of life.  

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet is one of the more popular gluten free diet regimens.  Basic Paleo principals call for lean proteins (grass fed beef, pasture raised poultry and pork, wild caught fish), tons of vegetables and fruit (preferably organic), and nuts and seeds.  It's also known as the Caveman Diet or the Hunter and Gatherer Diet, because you should be able to catch, kill or harvest every bit of food in the diet.  

Things to avoid in the Paleo Diet are all grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats, etc), legumes and processed dairy products.  

I personally follow a modified Paleo diet and I can attest to the improved energy levels and fat loss.  I've seen the effects in a number of friends and fellow Crossfit enthusiasts and it's clear to me that the diet works.  To be honest, I've also found it to be the easiest diet to stick to out of any I've ever tried.  I think the reason is because it's more than a diet, it's a clear cut way to make better food choices. 

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