Pro and Cons of a Gluten Free Diet

Going gluten free has become a popular fad diet plan even for people who can tolerate gluten. People are making a lot of claims, mostly unsubstantiated about all the benefits of removing gluten from the diet. According to Boston University, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and titicale (hybrid mix of rye and wheat). Gluten is also an additive to many foods. In addition, while oats are gluten-free themselves, they are almost always contaminated by contact gluten-containing grains during processing.

Studies have shown that about 1 percent of Americans are affected by Celiac Disease and as many as 5 percent may suffer from sensitivity to gluten. Yet on a regular basis, up to 25 percent of Americans are purchasing gluten free products.

People who have Celiac Disease cannot tolerate gluten and a gluten free diet is the best way to alleviate their symptoms. People with a sensitivity to gluten may also benefit from the removal of gluten from the diet. For the rest of the world however, removing gluten may not be the best way to go.

What exactly is Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease in which the small intestine reacts adversely to gluten. Because of this sufferers may not be able to absorb nutrients from the food they are eating. This can lead to a variety of other illnesses including osteoporosis.

Pros

For people with Celiac Disease, a gluten free diet will remove the symptoms that are so debilitating. The damage that has been done to the small intestine can also be reversed by going gluten free. It will also help people who are allergic or sensitive to wheat.

Decreasing the consumption of carbohydrates may encourage more consumption of fruits and vegetables. This will provide additional vitamins and minerals and fiber.

When following a gluten free diet, it is necessary to read labels carefully and to eat more unprocessed food.

A gluten free diet adds foods to the diet which might have never been tried otherwise such as buckwheat and quinoa. It also raises awareness of all the food that is being eaten.

Cons

Many of the processed foods that are gluten free are high in calories and also fat and sugar.
Not all gluten free foods have been enriched with vitamins and minerals. It may be necessary to take a daily multi vitamin to supplement what you are eating.

Foods that are gluten free are missing the high fiber of some products made with whole grain. It is usually not a good idea in any diet to eliminate an entire food group. 

It is very difficult to remove gluten totally from the diet since it is hidden in so many foods in the form of a thickener.

There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that a gluten-free diet is a healthy choice for people searching for a diet to lose weight or for improved health. If you suffer from Celiac Disease or sensitivity to gluten, removing gluten from your diet may be the recommended choice of your health care provider. You should consult a doctor or a registered dietician before removing gluten for any other reason.

Photo from Pixabay


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