Archive for the tag - gluten

BREAKING NEWS: Gluten Sensitivity Is Probably Fake.

the-science-is-in--why-gluten-sensitivity-is-probably-fakeAccording to Business Insider, 30% of Americans want to eat less gluten. And 18% of adults buy gluten-free products. But only 1% of Americans have celiac disease, a condition in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food.

People without celiac disease often report having gluten sensitivity. The problem is, according to researchers, it’s a condition that probably doesn’t exist.

Back in 2011, a popular study concluded that gluten can cause gastrointestinal distress in people who don’t have celiac disease. It was enough to launch a whole of gluten-free products and marketing.

The researcher behind the 2011 study conducted a follow up study with individuals who reported gluten sensitivity and gastrointestinal distress. Participants were put on several different diets, including gluten free and gluten-containing diets. Regardless of the diet type, the participants experienced intestinal problems anyway. Gluten wasn’t even a factor.

There was one diet type that resulted in less gastrointestinal distress. It was low in something called FODMAPs, which are carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Many foods containing FODMAPs also contain gluten, including beer, pasta and bread. Interestingly enough, a low FODMAP diet is often prescribed for individuals suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

Bring on the FODMAP-free diet craze!

Should I Go Gluten-Free?

gluten-free_mainOver the last few years, “gluten-free” has been getting a lot of buzz. But rather than understanding what gluten really is, most people mistakenly believe that “gluten-free” is synonymous with healthy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the term gluten-free refers to a diet “that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale.”

Rather than being some sort of health craze, gluten-free diets are prescribed as a treatment for celiac disease. About 1% of the population suffers from celiac disase, which is characterized by an autoimmune rejection of those foods containing gluten. It can result in gastrointestinal inflammation and a number of undesirable symptoms.

But for people not suffering from celiac disease or even gluten sensitivity, does going gluten-free still make sense?

No.

Eliminating gluten from your diet can actually be dangerous – and even lead to nutritional deficiencies. According to the American Council on Exercise:

Grains are an excellent source of B-vitamins and fiber. Most standard grains such as bread, cereal and pasta contain wheat, rye or barley and thus include gluten. Complete elimination of gluten-containing grains can lead to nutritional deficiencies including B vitamins, calcium, vitamin D, iron, zinc, magnesium and fiber.

Gluten itself doesn’t have any special nutritional properties. But foods containing gluten do – like whole wheat, spelt, rye, barley and so on. These foods are definitely part of a healthy diet and contain lots of great stuff that your body needs. In other words, unless you are very careful, a gluten-free diet may not provide enough essential vitamins, minerals and fiber.

If you are suffering from celiac disease or have gluten sensitivity, eliminating gluten is a necessity. But for the rest of us, it’s an exercise in futility. Put your energy and effort into more productive pursuits – like reducing sugar, sodium or unhealthy fats.

Is Gluten-Free Healthier?

The other day, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when I saw a tub of ice cream advertised as gluten-free. Labeling a product as gluten-free has become an increasingly popular trend – and savvy marketers are hoping that consumers will believe that gluten-free products are healthier. They’re not.

In a tweet last April, Miley Cyrus even tweeted that “gluten is crapppp.” That’s crap, with four p’s.

As it turns out, gluten-free and healthy are two very different things. According to Mayo Clinic:

A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).

Gluten-free isn’t meant to be a weight loss strategy. Instead, a gluten-free diet is a treatment for celiac disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, 1 in 133 people have this condition. When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it causes the little hair-like projects that move food through to the gut to breakdown – resulting in bleeding, malabsorption and other issues.

If you don’t have celiac disease, there’s nothing wrong with consuming gluten. In fact, it’s healthy to do so. Sorry, Miley. Moreover, gluten-free diets tend to lack fiber, are higher in simple carbohydrates (the so-called “bad” carbs) and often low in the complex carbohydrates that our bodies need. If you do go gluten-free for medical reasons, it’s important to work with nutritionists and doctors to get a well-rounded diet.

The bottom line: If something is labeled as gluten-free, it’s not offering any sort of health benefit – unless, of course, you have celiac disease. The alleged link between a product being gluten-free and its nutritional content, as exemplified by my ice cream experience, is non-existent.