Gluten-free Diets Aren’t Healthy for Most People

During these challenging times, people are trying to eat healthily to avoid gaining the “COVID 15.” People are also trying out new diets to see if they can find new eating patterns. When we hear about how a diet is helping a friend feel their best, many of us think about trying it for ourselves. However, if a friend tells you that they are doing well on a gluten-free diet, or any diet, you should pause. A gluten-free diet is something only a doctor should suggest.

For people with celiac disease, an intolerance for gluten, a gluten-free diet is a must. With the popularity of the gluten-free diet growing, more products are entering the market, and restaurants are offering many gluten-free options. That’s a boon for people with celiac disease but not for the rest of us.

People who are sensitive to gluten may feel better, but a larger portion will derive no significant benefit from the practice,” said Dr. Daniel Leffler of Harvard Medical School.” They’ll simply waste their money, because these products are expensive.” Dr. Leffler is the director of clinical research at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Celiac disease causes an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine and can cause a lot of damage to a person’s body. It is a serious condition, and more than 300,000 Americans have it. It’s wonderful that there are so many options for people with the disease. But, there isn’t a reason for people who don’t suffer from it to switch to a gluten-free diet.   

Many gluten-free foods lack vitamins. People with celiac disease take specialized multivitamins. Because gluten-free products don’t contain any wheat, they frequently lack fiber. Many people with blood sugar concerns need higher-fiber intake, not less.

A gluten-free diet is not always a healthier alternative, nor a weight loss diet,” said registered dietician Emily Rubin. “It really should only be prescribed by your physician (typically a gastroenterologist) or dietitian if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye grains. If you only eat the processed gluten-free foods, like gluten-free cakes and cookies, you may not get your recommended vitamins, fiber and minerals.”

Additionally, a study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics examined more than 1,700 nutrition labels. It found that, on average, gluten-free foods have more fat, salt and sugar than the traditional versions. The words “gluten-free” on a label may make you think it’s healthy, but many of them are “nutritionally void.”

You must check the ingredients of these products [because] a lot of them have added binders and fillers that can cause digestive upset,” says dietitian Farah Fahad, MS, RDN. “When gluten is removed during food processing, manufacturers may add in more ingredients like salt, sugar and other starches to add more flavor to the product. Also, packaged gluten-free products may be lower in fiber and B vitamins than gluten-containing grains.”

Right now is a great time to start a healthier diet. We are eating more at home, and that’s leading us to try new things. However, you should speak to someone who knows your medical history when changing your diet. The latest health fads are frequently far from healthy and can do you harm in the long run.
June 01, 2020
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