Column: Fad diets are not as beneficial as you think

Maria Baldwin, Assistant Sports Editor

There are a lot of rumors going around about new diet ideas that are the easiest way to shed some pounds to get that perfect beach body before summer starts.

I’ve heard about students cutting gluten from their diets, and some are even cutting out dairy.

While there are definitely benefits to these diets, some have potential side effects that people may not be aware about.

First off, I would like to mention that females in general have a harder time breaking up flour and sugar products. I learned this from my strength trainer as we were discussing ways that I can achieve stronger lower abdominal muscles.

Cereal, bread, and grain products in today’s world are loaded with flour and sugar, and some may even experience a bloating feeling after they eat bread products containing gluten.

This could be the first sign of a gluten intolerance, as well as your body’s way of saying that it is having a rough time digesting all the gluten.

The definition of gluten is a protein found in wheat that gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape. Gluten is a combination of gliadin and glutenin, which is joined with starch in various grains.

Sufferers of a gluten intolerance often suffer from Celiac’s disease. This is when gluten users actually damage their small intestine because when it is ingested, their immune system responds by damaging the villi, the small, finger-like protrusions lining the intestine, which normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

This disease caused the diet-craze we know today, but does being gluten-free help you shed a few pounds before summer?

Most doctors will say no.

The reasoning is simply that while many people who go gluten-free stated they felt better, a food billed as “gluten-free” isn’t necessarily healthier.

Gluten-free products can be high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, and some people who go gluten-free actually gain weight.

Then there is the dairy-free diet. I may be biased but I am a huge advocate for this one, because I’ve seen and reaped the amazing benefits from cutting my milk intake.

Of course, it is very hard to cut out dairy entirely. I love a big glass of milk with my warm brownies or a big bowl of Mini-Wheats in the morning.

But after being raised to drink two glasses of milk per day, coming to college and in taking less dairy products was something that benefited me in more ways than one.

Scientists and dieticians have been saying for decades that while milk and dairy is essential for babies and young children’s development and growth, teenagers and adults were not meant to intake milk, just as animals stop drinking it from their mothers as they get to a certain age.

The first benefit I noticed once I came to college and stopped drinking milk every day was my weight. I instantly dropped 15 pounds, and felt so much healthier because my bloat decreased and I felt lighter on my feet.

My skin felt so much smoother and looked visibly clearer because of the reduced fats, sugars and hormones I was getting from the cow’s milk.

And if that isn’t the biggest reason to limit your dairy, I don’t know what is.

Limiting your dairy intake limits congestion!

While I always thought my seasonal allergies were the cause of my year-round congestion, and in many cases they were.

I found that I didn’t need to take daily antihistamines anymore, and that saved me a ton of money.

While there are obviously many fad diets out there said to help you lose weight, the best advice I can give someone is to do their research about the diet before trying it, and to eat a healthy and balanced diet with regular exercise.

No weight is easy to shed; you have to work for that beach body. It makes the outcome much better once you’ve sacrificed an unhealthy diet and sweated for it.

Maria Baldwin is a sophomore mass communications and public relations major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].