The Problem With Going Gluten-Free
Updated: May 25, 2021
I was recently in a conversation with a friend discussing what foods we think should be defined as "junk food". Nutritional taxonomy. Sounds riveting, huh?
As we articulated our thoughts and nailed down certain foods that were unarguably unhealthy such as potato chips or soda, there were other, less obvious foods that fit our criteria for being metabolic menaces.
I'm talking specifically about certain "health" foods that are labeled with eye-catching, feel-good words such as gluten-free. Foods that appear to be elect, but in reality, your health would be better off by circumnavigating them.
How do these supposed health foods meet the classifications for being deemed as junk foods?
Just as one malevolent employee can disrupt a productive working environment, one ingredient can instigate downward health consequences. The ingredients that possess such formidable traits are vegetable and seed oils.
I've previously written on my concerns about vegetable and seed oils here which goes into detail about how we were not created to eat such foods. Because the fatty acid profiles of vegetable and seed oils are primarily made of polyunsaturate fatty acids, their chemical structures are unstable which is a major problem in maintaining homeostasis.
Agonizingly, it's not uncommon for vegetable and seed oils to be incorporated into all sorts of "health" foods.
For example, over the past few years, gluten has faced unrelenting scrutiny under the health and wellness community. While it's an acceptable recommendation to minimize gluten consumption, food companies have taken the attack on gluten to another level by creating all sorts of gluten-free cereals, crackers, cookies, pizzas, pastas, and bread.
Because of our conceived notion that "gluten is bad", when we see foods that are gluten-free, we naturally assume they're either healthy or better than the alternatives. Note this: Just because a food doesn't contain ingredient X, does not mean that the food is an asset to your health. (e.g., sugar-free sodas contain artificial sweeteners that are linked to neurological diseases and cancer.)
More often than not, the foods that are boastfully gluten-free are foods that contain vegetable and seed oils. The whole point of going gluten-free is to reduce inflammation. Ironically, vegetable and seed oils are plainly the most inflammatory foods because of their vulnerability to oxidization.
I'm not against going gluten-free. In fact, I believe that many people can benefit from limiting their gluten intake. However, I am unapologetic when it comes to the hostility I hold towards vegetable and seed oils. These oils do not belong in any diet; gluten-free or gluten-full.
It is imperative to understand that whenever we choose to cut back on a specific food or macronutrient, the avoided food will inevitably be replaced with another food. When it comes to going gluten-free, vegetable and seed oils are often the replacements.
In the world of nutritional coaching, dietitians and clinicians often say something along the lines of "it's all about balance." This is a false gospel that is removed from reality of biochemistry. You simply cannot eat enough antioxidant-rich foods to counterbalance the oxidative stress that vegetable and seed oils unleash on the body.
The Hateful Eight vegetable and seed oils should be at the top of the list of foods to avoid. Next time you go grocery shopping, keep your eyes out for these oils. Their omnipresence in store-bought foods (including gluten-free foods) is overwhelming.
If you can't remember them all, remember these two: olive, avocado, and coconut oil. These three are the only acceptable plant-derived fats.
In with regards to going gluten-free, have at it. But know that the righteous gluten-free foods don't plaster "gluten-free" on themselves. Foods like pasture-raised meat, raw dairy, and fresh produce. These foods are the original and the most premier gluten-free foods.