Does anybody really know what gluten is? Does anybody really care?
Now that there’s a multibillion-dollar market for gluten-free foods, people are ready to ask the essential question: What is gluten anyway?
Answers are everywhere, and some of them are even the right answers.
The ASAPScience team went to work on the matter and offers a neat and brief explanation in the video above.
Last week, Jimmy Kimmel sent a reporter out to ask people who don’t eat gluten what it was they were avoiding. None of them knew. Or ask Seth Rogen, who says, “Gluten is a vague term ... used to categorize things that are bad.”
Well, not quite. Gluten is two proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. A gluten-free diet is the only current treatment for celiac disease, and a smitch of gluten can make someone who has that very sick. But beyond those people -- 1 in 133 of us -- there are plenty of others who have decided not to eat gluten. Some for medical reasons, some because they’ve decided it’s a good diet for them.
But as the ASAPScience guys correctly note in their video, which had nearly half a million views as of early Friday afternoon, going gluten-free is not necessarily a more healthful diet. Many products reformulated to cut out gluten often replace the wheat with additional sugar or fat. People who choose a gluten-free diet to lose weight could be disappointed.
But there’s been a bit of a backlash, and industry watchers say the next wave of gluten-free foods are likely to include more nutritious substitutes -- such as amaranth -- and be more attentive to healthfulness.
Gluten-free junk food is still junk food, several speakers noted at a recent expo on gluten-free food and issues in San Diego. As with all efforts to eat a healthful diet, read the labels of processed food, and include plenty of fruits and vegetables. For many people, Grandma’s advice still stands.
Get our free Coronavirus Today newsletter
Sign up for the latest news, best stories and what they mean for you, plus answers to your questions.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.