If you enter a grocery store or a health food store, it is now impossible to miss the variety of gluten free products. This is excellent for people who have celiac disease, which means they are assured that they are not consuming products that has gluten. Interestingly, however, the vast majority of people who purchase these products do not have celiac disease. In fact, most of them don’t even have a gluten sensitivity.
The market, meanwhile, is growing exponentially because so many people now believe that eating gluten free products is somehow healthier, and enables them to lose weight. In reality, however, it is only essential for those who have celiac disease. For others, it means they are at increased risk of having fiber, mineral, and vitamin deficiencies. So is there any benefit to going gluten free, or is it truly just yet another fad?
Why People Believe Gluten Free Is Better
People who have celiac disease must remove all gluten from their diet. However, celiac disease is a disorder, which means that removing gluten is a form of treatment. However, people shouldn’t have treatment for diseases that they don’t have. The problem is that there is so much conflicting information about gluten in the public domain that people simply do not know anymore whether gluten is good or bad for people who don’t have celiac.
A 2011 study, conducted by Peter Gibson and colleagues from Monash University in Australia, claimed that NCGS may be a legitimate disorder, after finding participants that consumed gluten experienced increased bloating and fatigue. A 2013 study from the same research team, however, overturned their previous findings. “We found no evidence of specific or dose-dependent effects of gluten in patients with NCGS,” the team concluded. In fact, the researchers found the bloating previously identified may be attributable to consumption of carbohydrates called FODMAPs (fermentable, oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols).
Various other studies have been conducted, some of which suggest that gluten is bad for people, some suggest that gluten is good for people, and others still that suggest they are neither good nor bad. As a result, people quite genuinely do not know what to do for the best and rely on the media and their grocery store shelves to tell them what to do, which seems to be to avoid gluten.
Gluten – Good or Bad for You?
Gluten is a type of protein similar to that found in high carb products. This is exactly where the gluten free diet (for non celiacs) comes from: lowering carbohydrates is said to be a quick weight loss trick. However, there is a lot more to gluten than that. While gluten is not essential to your overall health, what is essential is the vitamins, minerals and other nutritional elements that they provide. And this is where the issue lies.
Studies show gluten-free diets can be deficient in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc. You can eat a healthy diet without gluten, but you have to be very knowledgeable, and most people aren’t. People who go gluten-free may feel better because, to avoid the protein, they end up cutting out desserts and junk foods, thus losing weight. They mistakenly attribute that to their gluten-free decision.
So what is the bottom line? Researchers seem to agree that people should eat gluten, unless they have celiac disease. There are no particular health benefits to cutting out gluten because it doesn’t support weight loss and it comes at a hefty price tag. If people believe that gluten is giving them gastrointestinal problems, however, they should simply get tested and find out whether they need to go gluten free.