HEALTH

Gluten-Free Diet: False Fad or Good for You?

gluten-free diet

Kavya NarayananHEALTH,,,,

Based on no evidence other than testimonials and tabloids, gluten-free diets have been a popular choice for weight-loss, boosting energy levels, as autism treatment, or just a healthy overall.

In the history of People magazine, Dr. Peter Gibson was probably the first researcher ever to find his publication mentioned among influences from the Popes, Middletons, and Kardashians of the world.

Dr. Peter Gibson, an Australian Gastroenterologist and Professor, led a team of researchers who conducted two studies—one in 2011 and the other in 2013—about gluten sensitivity.

As for the research, his team’s work was as revolutionary as the next, but his paper, which questioned the existence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)*, commonly known as gluten sensitivity, prompted nearly every popular news agency and health blogger to spout their opinions on gluten intolerance.

Ever since, it’s been nothing short of surreal how many products [from beer to cat food] now come with a gluten-free alternative; once confined to just health food stores!

Some began to vouch for these products when their gastrointestinal discomfort from IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] or celiac diseases [hypersensitivity to gluten] reduced, and brought it up with a friend or family.

Curiosity and experimentation later, 21% of America today is going gluten-free, where celiac disease affects just 1% of its population.

It didn’t help when Miley Cyrus credited a gluten-free diet for her weight loss last year, tweeting

It’s not about weight it’s about health. Gluten is crapppp anyway!

While that caught 10,000 retweets and likes, experts disagree that gluten is “crapppp”, and advise avoiding it only if your body is sensitive to it.

Based on no evidence other than testimonials and tabloids, these diets have been a popular choice for weight-loss, boosting energy levels, as autism treatment, or just a healthy overall.

Decades of dietary research goes against the claim that gluten-free diets promote weight loss.

frioul brunch

On the contrary, people who consume whole grains (made from all three parts of wheat/rye/barley: bran, germ and endosperm) regularly are rarely overweight, and have lower risks of heart disease and cancers (including colorectal cancers).

Fiber, folate, iron, zinc, riboflavin, B12 and phosphorus are just some of what most gluten-free products don’t contain. You’d also be giving up or paying more for some of mankind’s more delightful inventions—pasta, breads, cereal, pizza and beer!

Traditionally, whole-grain foods, especially breads, are fortified with vitamins and minerals, commonly Vitamin B12, which are forfeited by people opting to go gluten-free.

Another advantage to consuming whole-grains is its rich content of antioxidants (almost 30 unique kinds), some of which are known to delay ageing. How can one lose with that?

People who choose to avoid gluten strictly open their doors to deficiencies, and are advised to take multivitamin supplements regularly.

Note to those watching their weight: Additionally, the food industry, in the process of making gluten-free products, replace wheat starch – source of gluten – with starch from rice or potatoes, which are far less nutritious, and loaded with carbs [calorie counters, take note].

The proud label of ‘gluten-free’ doesn’t reflect any nutritional value of the food, and lacks the nutrition-rich, health-protecting grains that make it a wise food choice.

Stephanie Karl, a clinical nutritionist at J T S Medical Centre, Dubai says,

While some people are born with an intolerance, others are dealing with the consequences of a poor diet.

She adds that over the last few decades, the numerous new food products introduced in the market aren’t familiar to our digestive functions, and over time and repeated exposure cause digestive stress and intolerance in people with poor immunity. She says,

While it’s imperative for coeliacs to avoid gluten stringently, the rest of us can choose to go either route so long as we’re aware going gluten-free is unnecessary, and often unhealthy just because.

 

So if you’re faced with a choice and not bogged down by intolerance to gluten: choose well, guys! It’s a jungle out there!

Do you follow a gluten-free diet? Tell us what you think about fad diets in the comments below.