It seems to be hard-wired into our brains now: The New Year marks the beginning of the dieting season as many people turn resolutely to getting rid of the weight they gained over the holidays or that 10, 20, 30 extra pounds they’ve been carrying around for years.
Each year also brings new diets and new food trends to consider when deciding to change eating habits and hopefully, lose weight for good.
This year there are a slew of choices from Paleo and Keto to gluten-free and WFPB (whole foods plant based). There’s lots of talk about GMOs this year too — that’s genetically modified organisms, in case you’re out of the loop.
I couldn’t recommend any particular diet, but I’ve done some research on both gluten and GMO’s to share with you. Both can have an effect on the body depending on individual sensitivities. These can be considered when determining what type of diet you want to follow.
The Skinny On Gluten
Celiac disease is the official name for the condition that is triggered when gluten is consumed. According to the latest statistics, around 1 in 133 people in the U.S., have celiac disease. Gluten is found in wheat and various grains including rye, barley, couscous and semolina. It’s also in hundreds of other products that contain wheat and grains – even in many that you wouldn’t expect. In people with Celiac disease, gluten triggers an autoimmune response that attacks the lining of the small intestine. As a result, the body cannot absorb nutrients into the bloodstream properly. This can lead to anemia, delayed growth, and weight loss, among other things. In addition, gluten can cause bloating and irritable bowel syndrome.
The reason gluten is in the spotlight now is that some 18 million + people in the U.S. report having some form of gluten intolerance. This is referred to by the former National Celiac Awareness Foundation (now known as Beyond Celiac) as “people without celiac disease avoiding gluten” (PWAGs). That’s a mouthful! So, if you are considering a diet and have gluten sensitivities, you’ll want to keep that in mind.
Now Those Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) And Their Dietary Effects
So, exactly what are GMO’s and do they affect our health? GMO’s are any genetically modified foods, also known as “GM foods” or “biotech foods.” Most commonly, GMO’s are from seeds that produce crops such as corn and soy. The sale of GMO foods began in the 90’s with delayed ripening tomatoes (these have since been removed from the market). Most of us have been consuming genetically modified foods for years without knowing it. Recent studies show 60% – 70% of processed foods in grocery stores contain GMO ingredients.
However, over the years some potential risks of GMO foods are thought to include the introduction of allergens and toxins to food, antibiotic resistance and adversely changing the nutrient content of a crop, among others. In order to avoid GMO foods, you really need to examine labels. Many foods put Non-GMO labels on their foods. It’s difficult to know if there will be long-term health issues with GMO foods. Many believe that food on the market derived from GMO crops is no greater risk to human health than other conventional foods. However, many critics have objected to GMO foods based on safety issues for human health as well as environmental. The largest concerns have to do with a lack of study. There are no studies showing what the long-term results of GMO consumption will be.
GMO foods include fruit, vegetables and many meat products because the livestock are fed GMO grains. You really have to do your homework to avoid GMOs.
Dieting In The 21st Century
Dieting isn’t as simple as it used to be. Not that it was easy – not ever – but it was simpler. You simply reduced your caloric intake and increased your caloric output. Today, with a range of new food allergies and sensitivities dieting has become more complicated than ever. I wish you the best of luck finding the diet that best suits your health goals.