Obviously, people having gluten-related disorders such as celiac disease are advised to veer away from foods with gluten. However, it’s not wise for an average healthy person to shift to a gluten-free diet just because it is a popular trend. When you see TV ads promoting gluten-free foods or “gluten-free” labels on the products in a supermarket, you automatically think that it is a healthier option. No, it is not! Gluten-free diet when given to a healthy Joe may cause more harm than good. Actually, shifting to a gluten-free diet may even deprive him of good nutrition.
7 Major dangers of the gluten-free diet
A gluten-free diet can lack the vitamin B complex, vitamin D, fiber, folate, calcium, magnesium, and iron which are found in wheat, barley, rye, kamut, and other gluten-containing whole grains.
Gluten-free bread is less fluffy, so additives are used to compensate, such as corn starch, eggs, xanthum gum, guar gum, and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose and may be too high in fat and calories.
Processed gluten-free foods are higher in sugar and glycemic index. The glycemic index represents the total rise in a person’s blood sugar level following consumption of a particular type of food. It is useful for understanding how the body breaks down carbohydrates and only takes into account the available carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) in a food. The glycemic index is usually applied in the context of the quantity of the food and the amount of carbohydrate in the food that is actually consumed.
Processed gluten-free foods are higher in salt.
Processed gluten-free foods are also higher in transfats – a type of unsaturated fats that are uncommon in nature but became commonly produced industrially from vegetable fats for use in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods and frying fast food. Trans fats have been shown to consistently be associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, a leading cause of death in Western nations.
Many gluten-free products are not fortified or enriched by such nutrients as folate, iron, and fiber as traditional breads and cereals have been during the last century.
There is one more concern: a gluten-free diet may mask symptoms of more serious diseases because it’s hard to tell if the person’s health condition improved due to a dietary change.
The inclusion of oats in gluten-free diet remains controversial. The long-term effects of pure oats consumption are still unclear. Coeliac people who choose to consume oats need a more rigorous lifelong follow-up, whom include periodic performance of intestinal biopsies.
Shifting to a gluten-free diet is also an expensive choice that long-term sustenance may be financially constraining to some families.
In his article titled “The Gluten-Free Diet: Recognizing Fact, Fiction, and Fad” that was published in the Journal of Pediatrics, Dr. Norelle R. Reilly, of New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, says a gluten-free diet is not a healthy lifestyle choice, especially for children: “Parents should be counselled as to the possible financial, social, and nutritional consequences of unnecessary implementation of a gluten-free diet.” (http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(16)30062-2/abstract )
There is more risk than benefit to a gluten-free diet for people who haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease or wheat allergy.
Do you know that in 2015, 25% of U.S. consumers reported eating gluten-free foods, according to market research by the Mintel Group? The gluten-free industry more than doubled in size from 2013 to 2015.
(http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/gluten-free-diet-children-1.3581027) Do NOT help making the gluten-free food market a multi-billion-dollar industry without a reason!
Eating a gluten-free cookie is not a good choice over naturally gluten-free vegetables. To stay healthy, it is still best to follow a balanced diet with vegetables, fresh fruit, protein and carbohydrates.
Do NOT self-diagnose yourself!
Do NOT go gluten-free if it’s unnecessary!
Do NOT be afraid – nothing toxic about gluten! Not at all! This common misconception may lead many people to adopt a gluten-free diet when they don’t need to.
You have to consider many aspects before going gluten-free. To make sure the diet is appropriate your decision should be guided by a doctor.
In other words: don’t fix what is not broken.