Diet Debunk: Gluten-Free

For some reason people hear the word “gluten-free” and automatically assume it is the healthier option. This is not true.

QUIZ! Are any of the foods below good for you?

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.58.33 PM CarrotCake Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.57.30 PM

DONT BE DECEIVED: The waffles on the left are Kashi made with whole wheat flour and hearty whole grains. The carrot cake in the middle was purchased at Whole Foods, is vegan, and is made with organic ingredients. The bundts on the right are the least healthy, coming from a gluten-free box but overloaded with fillers, excess sugar, and preservatives.

Lesson: You can make healthy choices while indulging in your sweet tooth. Gluten has little to do with it.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. It gives dough elasticity, helping it rise, and keep proper shape.

What is Celiacs?

Celiacs is a disease in which your body’s inability to digest the proteins causes inflammation of the stomach lining. About 1 in 133 people, or 1%, of the US population has celiac disease, and about 6% of the US population has an intolerance. (Yes, think dairy allergy VS. lactose intolerance. Same thing, but with grains instead of dairy).

Going gluten-free?

If you are avoiding gluten, you can still have all other forms of grains (other than wheat, barley, rye, and triticale). This includes: potatoes, beans, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.

Benefits of going gluten-free?

If you are allergic or have an intolerance (AKA you are one of the 1-6% of Americans), then you will absolutely benefit from going gluten-free because you saving your intestines from breaking down.

If you are not allergic or intolerant, there is little scientific evidence that proves it will benefit you. Many health experts believe there is no benefit to going gluten-free.

Drawbacks of going gluten-free?

Many gluten free products contain less micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), less fiber, and more sugar to try to recreate the elasticity of gluten.

Why are people doing it?

Unfortunately they’ve fallen for marketing schemes set up but food companies to try to promote their products. Gluten-free is now a label being used on products that never contained gluten in the first place like Green Giant vegetables or Chobani Greek yogurt.

Should I go gluten-free?

I mean…I’m not. In my opinion unless you’re allergic or intolerant eating gluten free is a fad. It physically won’t benefit me in any way to go gluten-free so I’m not going to do it. Maybe it makes some people feel better that they’ve gone gluten-free, but to me variety in my diet is more important.

References:

http://www.celiaccentral.org/celiac-disease/facts-and-figures/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/04/know-before-going-gluten-free_n_4719554.html

http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-we-eat-the-gluten-free-craze-is-it-healthy-1403491041

7 thoughts on “Diet Debunk: Gluten-Free

  1. froggybrain Reply

    So glad you wrote this! I refused to go gluten free because it has become such a fad, like you said unless you have a gluten intolerance there is no benefits at all!! I unfortunately had to make this choice, because of a medical condition, not because I wanted to. I tried everything first and it wasn’t working. After eliminating gluten and dairy I have felt better! No stomach aches and weight loss finally! Because I have hashimotos disease is the ONLY reason I went gluten free!!

  2. NPF Reply

    Good write up. I mostly agree. I would just add that the alternative to gluten doesn’t necessarily mean eating foods that are packaged and marketed as “gluten free”. For example I don’t eat a lot of gluten, but not because I’m trying to go gluten free, but because I eat in a way that just doesn’t have much of it (vegetables, mostly raw in salads and smoothies, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils like olive, coconut, hemp, butter, all natural, preferably grass fed animal products). I try to avoid grains most of the time, not because of the gluten, but because from my research they’re not that great for you (cause inflammation, convert to sugar and fat in the body, etc.) and any beneficial nutrients in grains can be found elsewhere in better foods. Note: I do eat grains here and there because I love pizza, pasta, etc. – just not part of my everyday diet. I agree, going “gluten free” for no good reason is not the best choice, especially when doing it by stocking up on expensive gluten free packaged products.

    • dashafitness Reply

      Exactly! “Gluten-free” has nothing to do with it, it’s about making smarter choices with healthier grains. The same can be said about research for dairy products. Thank you for adding this 🙂

  3. megannbaughman13 Reply

    Thank you for this! All of my friends are trying to convince me that gluten free is better, when I know that it’s only better for you if you have an intolerance!

    • dashafitness Reply

      People think gluten-free makes you lose weight, but in reality what makes you lose weight is lowering your carb intake! It’s a silly misconception that the industry has employed to sell their products!

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