To be honest I didn't really understand what gluten-free meant until a year ago. Consequently, that meant I didn't freakin' understand why it became such a trend on social media posts and blogs about healthy dieting and why people were going gluten-free for fun.

All I knew was that Kourtney Kardashian refused to eat gluten because it was "unhealthy" and uprooted her entire dining dynamic in her household. Obviously, what Kourt says goes, right?

What does gluten-free really mean?

To enlighten you unknowing readers (don't worry I've been there), gluten is a substance in foods like pizza, pasta, bread, and even beer! It is a protein that is basically found in anything that has wheat, rye, or barley.

Now that we know what gluten means, we can really understand what in the world gluten-free really means. My journey into the world of gluten free health on the internet led me to Harvard Health's Holly Strawbridge, a former Executive Editor of the Harvard Heart Letter, and her blog "Going gluten-free just because? Here's what you need to know." 

There, she states "people with celiac disease can't tolerate gluten, not even in small amounts....gluten triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine....and [can] lead to other problems like osteoporosis, infertility, nerve damage, and seizures."

It can also result in weight loss and malnutrition. Pretty serious stuff, right?

Why has gluten-free dieting become such a health trend?

So, why has the media made a #coolaf trend around gluten-free dieting then? It seems testimonials by respected celebrities that media consumers have come to idolize, and otherwise trust, have pioneered this craze.

The list: Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, Kourtney Kardashian (obvi), Jenny McCarthy, Victoria Beckham, Emmy Rossum, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Jessica Simpson, Zooey Deschanel, Ryan Gosling, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and more.

While some of these stars actually have celiac disease, gluten intolerance/allergy, or a non-celiac sensitivity to gluten, others decided to cut gluten out of their diet as a lifestyle choice to be "healthier" and lose weight.

While gluten-free products may provide relief to people sensitive to gluten, Holly Strawbridge draws advice from a gluten-free expert Dr. Leffler who states that "'a larger portion [of people] will derive no significant benefit from the practice. They'll simply waste their money because these products are expensive'"  Coming from a well established doctor, it's hard to see the benefits of going gluten-free for fun.

Summer, Ocean, smoothie, eating smoothies, laughing, girls smiling, smoothie bowls, coffee
Julia Gilman

Is going gluten-free for fun really healthy?

Yes, gluten-free diets may help you lose weight. However, this wight loss may not be entirely healthy because this can lead to malnutrition due to reduced fiber intake and loss of vitamin consumption because gluten is literally everywhere -- like frozen vegetables, lunch meats, soy sauce, and even lip balm!

It is a common consensus by professionals in the field that if you don't have tendencies for gluten intolerance on any level ranging from celiac disease to sensitivity, that people should not go on a gluten-free diet.

Why the media has demonized gluten may remain a mystery  to us. Be that as it may, we can conclude that if you do want to go on a gluten-free diet, you should probably take it up with your doctor first. Self-diagnosis is never a good thing so we advise you to schedule a check up with the professionals.