That gluten-free diets are popular nowadays is not in doubt. More and more people are getting recruited into the g-free trend; some not even aware what the buzzword is all about. The question however, remains – just how scientifically correct is the gluten-free myth? We seek to dispel the myths about this type of diet.
What Is The Gluten-Free Buzzword All About?
Gluten is a protein that is naturally found in barley, rye and wheat which can cause an adverse reaction particularly to people living with celiac disease. A gluten-free diet is therefore free from these foods. That means no more pastas, breads, cakes or any wheat flour food items. Even some salad dressings, soups and sauces are totally discouraged among g-free dieters since they contain small amounts of gluten obtained from grains.
Word on the street however is that, whether you have gluten resistance or not, you should eat gluten-free food in order to be healthy and lose weight. As it turns out, most of these claims are unfounded. Unless you have celiac disease, removing gluten from your diet can actually lead to poor health and general weight gain.
Gluten-free diet is suitable for people who have been diagnosed with disorders, and to this end, there is no evidence that it is beneficial for those who do not suffer from these conditions.
What Do Scientific Studies Say?
* Monash University
A recent study conducted by Peter Gibson, a lead researcher of gastroenterology at Monash University, Australia (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11882-013-0386-4) sought to demystify the misconceptions about this buzzy protein. Focusing on 37 subjects who did not have celiac disease, the research team sought to identify gastrointestinal symptoms. The subjects were shuffled through three diets namely: baseline diet, whey protein isolate diet and gluten added diet.
In the end, it was observed that as subjects moved from the baseline diet to whey protein and gluten added diet, they continuously reported gas, bloating, intestinal pain and even nausea. This happened regardless of whether the treatments was placebo, low-gluten or high-gluten.
The researchers concluded that unless one has celiac disease, gluten sensitivity is probably more of an imaginary issue than a real one.
* University of Florida
Another study performed by professors from the University of Florida which was later publicized on the JNEB (http://www.jneb.org/article/S1499-4046(14)00458-8/fulltext#sec4) echoes the sentiments of the Monash University one. The study involved 97 subjects who tasted two types of cookies alongside two types of chips (one of the choices labeled “conventional” the other “gluten-free” although none of those food items contained gluten). A survey was then taken about their perception of gluten-free diets as the researchers wanted to find out if the participants perceived any difference just based on the labels.
Overall, those who took part in this study reported that they thought the products marked gluten-free’ were healthier than those labeled “conventional”. They did this not knowing that the two were actually one and the same thing. That once again confirms that indeed the gluten-free myth is more of a scam than a life-saving diet unless one has celiac disease.
Common Myths about Gluten-Free Eating Debunked
Myth 1: It Guarantees Weight Loss
On the contrary some gluten-free food can make you put on weight. Some may lose weight upon following a g-free diet and that’s because this type of diet tends to reduce a lot of carbs – and so it is not surprising to note weight loss. On the flipside, though, as word about this diet spreads, more and more carb-filled products are popping up and if you eat them you would still struggle with weight. So carbs are actually the ones to blame, not gluten.
Myth 2: Less Gluten, Better Digestion
It is true that removing gluten can lead to a healthier digestive system but that only applies to those with celiac disease. Otherwise, there is absolutely no evidence (and the two studies we’ve discussed above can confirm that) that g-free dieting can improve your digestive system if you are not gluten sensitive.
Myth 3: It’s Healthier To Eat Gluten-Free
As food manufacturers strive to create gluten-free food, they sometimes have to adjust the ingredients. Some of the items you lose when gluten is removed from your diet are palatability, chewiness and texture. In order to restore those qualities, food manufacturers have to add fats and sugar in higher quantities (than in the items with gluten). So in other words, gluten-free food is not necessarily the healthiest option available.
Symptoms Indicating the Need for Gluten-free Diet
So do you qualify for gluten-free diet? Below is a list of celiac disease.
* Recurring abdominal pain
* Chronic diarrhea or constipation
* Tingling or numbness in hands/feet
* Joint pain (accompanied by difficulties walking or performing day-to-day tasks)
* Chronic fatigue
* Low bone density (characterized by osteopororis)
* Unexplained infertility
There is a long list of potential symptoms, some of which are also indicative of other conditions. For that reason, it is important to avoid self-diagnosis and instead visit a healthcare provider. It is not possible to diagnose gluten sensitivity through stool test, saliva or blood tests. Before you give up gluten, talk to a celiac disease expert.
Making a personal choice to avoid gluten without understanding whether your body really needs a gluten break is not wise and may actually work against your fitness plans. The gluten-free myth stems from a rising culture where the society chooses to demonize particular food items and praise others. A few years ago it was fat that was on the receiving end, and today the spotlight seems to have moved to gluten. What scientists have confirmed so far, however, is that your diet does not have to be free of gluten to be healthy.
So don’t fall for those fly-by-night scams that encourage you to purchase gluten-free products even when you have not been diagnosed with gluten resistance. Good health and general fitness are goals that require time, moderation and most importantly wise counsel to accomplish.
As we have seen in this write-up, in most cases, carbs are to blame and not gluten. The decision to go gluten-free will not bring any significant health benefits to your health. Things might even worsen if you are lured into using gluten-free carb supplements.