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What’s This Hollywood Gluten-Free Trend?

April 13, 2012

Free at last! Free at last! Miley Cyrus is gluten-free at last! In fact, the former Hannah Montana star believes everyone should be gluten free. She’s been quoted as saying, “Gluten is crap! Everyone should try to go without it for a week. You won’t go back!” But she’s not the only one touting the benefits of gluten abstinence. A gluten-free diet and lifestyle is the new rage across the nation, and it’s particularly evident in the fitness and youth obsessed capital of the world: Hollywood, CA. Zooey Deschanel, Ryan Phillipe, Gwenyth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Al Roker, Scar Jo, and even the chain-smoking, hard-partying Billy Bob Thornton have sworn off the enigmatic protein. So what is this mysterious, potentially hazardous substance? A substance, by the way, most of us have been eating our entire lives. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, rye, and barley; but from a practical point of view, gluten is the substance that gives all the delicious foods we love to eat (breads, cakes, pasta, muffins) their yummy, chewy texture. So, be forewarned, if you decide to give up gluten you’ll be eschewing club sandwiches, pasta, spaghetti and meatballs (yes, including the meatballs which are made with breadcrumbs) beer, pretzels, cookies, dumplings, pancakes, pizza…oh, this is getting brutal! Your hamburger will go bunless and sit on a salad; your dessert options will be severely diminished to options like dark chocolate, marshmallows, and rice-crispy treats. But don’t be too crestfallen; Miley goes on to rave about her newfound mystical fountain of youth, “The change in your skin, your physical and mental health, it’s amazing!”

Now, keep in mind, these celebrities have been diagnosed a severe food allergy to gluten called Celiac disease or suffer from a sensitivity to gluten. But some experts believe, from an evolutionary perspective, none of our stomachs are ready for gluten foods. After all, science tells us Homo sapiens have been in existence for over 100,000 years, but we’ve only been consuming gluten for the past 10,000 at most. This is a mere blip on the epochal radar of human experience. But critics of the new health kick caution if you are not gluten sensitive, it may not be a good idea to cut out the gluten because you could put yourself at risk of not getting enough fiber, iron, calcium, and B vitamins. And for those who are inspired by Miley’s recent weigh loss, keep in mind there’s no hard evidence that going gluten free is an effective weight loss strategy–especially with all the new high-calorie gluten-free products in markets including waffles, cupcakes, biscuits, and brownies.

So, what’s the bottom line on to-be or not-to-be gluten free? Well, if you’re happy and fit with lots of energy and enthusiasm, and you have the initiative and fortitude to chase your dreams and desires…well, first of all, God bless you! If that’s the case, you’re probably not gluten intolerant. But, if you are sluggish, daunted by everyday tasks, have achy joints; if you feel weak and in need of naps throughout the day, it might be wise to check with your doctor or registered nutritionist to see if a gluten-free adventure is in your future. And, if you happen to be on the fence about the issue, take Miley’s advice and try it for a week. Who knows, maybe your “skin, physical and mental health” will be “amazing!”