Eating gluten-free not necessarily healthier for those without allergy

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By Rebekah Wahlburg | Copy Chief

With the rise in awareness of gluten or wheat intolerance, many are choosing to cut the ingredients out of their diet: Some to appease their intolerance, and others to join a growing trend.

“Gluten is one of those things that takes a toll on my body,” said Amanda Snodgrass, freshman aviation science major of her allergy.

She cut wheat out of her diet a year and a half ago, and said she has felt much healthier since.

Cassidy Daley, junior communication disorders major, worked at Patti’s Perfect Pantry, a completely gluten-free bakery in Gilroy, Calif., last summer.

“A lot of people have the misconception that gluten-free means calorie-free or low-fat, but that’s not the case,” Daley said.

Gluten-free foods and their wheat counterparts have about the same number of calories.

Dr. David Getoff, a clinical nutritionist working out of his home in El Cajon, Calif., said eating gluten-free is not healthier if starches are not understood.
Starches of all kinds, including common substitutes for wheat flour such as potato starch, corn starch and rice flour, increase the likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease and other health problems if they are consumed over a long period of time.

“If somebody eats fewer grains, then they’re eating less starch,” Getoff said. “The problem comes when people are buying gluten-free products in the store, and don’t understand what the manufacturer has substituted for wheat.”

Most manufacturers use multiple, combined ingredients to substitute the flavor and texture of wheat, such as tapioca starch, potato starch and xanthan gum.
Janelle Fagg, resident director for the Colony North, does not usually eat foods that substitute other ingredients for wheat flour.

“One thing that feels different that might contribute to feeling healthier is not feeling so heavy after you eat,” Fagg said.

Fagg said the most important part is balancing her diet with plenty of protein, vegetables and fruit.

Although there is a widespread trend of thinking gluten-free foods are healthy, gluten-free eating is not necessarily healthier.

About Rebekah Wahlberg

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