This article is a good chance to highlight that as more gluten free foods have come available, there are some that are even less healthy than the high-calorie, low nutrition foods they replace. It’s important that those going gluten free focus on eating more vegetables, unprocessed meats, switch to whole grains (like brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa), and eat fewer sugars and processed flours.
It seems the gluten-free diet has gone mainstream, with a lot of otherwise healthy people signing on. As a result, manufacturers are producing gluten-free cookies, cakes, pastas and other products high in sugar, fat or sodium.
Reinagel recommends checking labels closely and shopping carefully.
“You can’t assume a food or a product is nutritious simply because it is gluten free,” Reinagel says.
Millions of Americans are sensitive to gluten, a protein found in wheat and certain other grains. Most suffer from a condition called celiac disease. When they eat gluten, it triggers an immune reaction that can ultimately damage the lining of the small intestine.
Celiac disease is not the same as a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance. But for all three the treatment is identical: a gluten-free diet.
Reinagel says a lot of people who can handle wheat go gluten-free anyway because they think it might help them lose a few pounds.
“If you are looking at a gluten-free diet as an easy solution for weight loss, I have to disappoint you, there is no guarantee that a gluten-free diet is going to lead to weight loss.”
In April, teen actress Miley Cyrus took some heat for encouraging everyone to go gluten free for a week, saying “The change in your skin, phyisical (sic) and mental health is amazing! U won’t go back!”
There is no evidence of significant health benefits from going gluten-free other than treating celiac disease or related gluten intolerance.
Reinagel says it is certainly possible to have a healthy diet that doesn’t include wheat.
“You can’t just assume ‘Oh, it is gluten free, it must be good for me,'” she says.
Image thanks to lauraliveslife.com
Dr. Stephen Wangen is the award winning author of two books on solving digestive disorders, and a nationally recognized speaker on IBS. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio. He was recently named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.