Gluten-Free For All?

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on June 12, 2014 · 1 comment

There are a lot of people who believe that a gluten-free label means the food is healthier. Not so. Others think avoiding gluten aids in weight loss. Doesn’t work. In fact, gluten is not harmful for those who do not have a medical reason to avoid this protein found in wheat, rye and barley. None the less many people believe that a gluten-free diet is a way to better health.

Currently there is a preoccupation with gluten and an underlying feeling that it is a toxic substance for the entire population. Research scientists and physicians, Antonio Di Sabatino and Gino Roberto Corazza are concerned that gluten-free eating is becoming a social health problem rather than a medical health problem. They list 3 reasons not to self-prescribe a gluten-free diet.

  • Eliminating gluten before you are tested for gluten sensitivity or celiac disease can make a diagnosis very difficult. Without the presence of gluten it is impossible to detect antibodies in your body that point to or rule out celiac disease.
  • If a person truly has celiac disease and has self-diagnosed they can be doing harm to their body because they may not fully understand how to avoid gluten in all of its forms. Some diet adjustment may eliminate symptoms but underlying issues can still be causing problems. A person with true celiac disease needs to be monitored for anemia, bone disease, and other autoimmune diseases. Women need to be counseled about fertility and complications in pregnancy and children and relatives may be at risk as well.
  • Eating gluten-free is expensive. Some gluten-free foods cost over 200% more than traditional foods. That is a lot to pay for something you may not need.

–   Many gluten-free food are made with refined flours – white rice, milled corn and tapioca starch. Look instead for gluten-free foods made from buckwheat, teff, amaranth, millet, quinoa, whole corn, brown rice or gluten-free oats.

–  Unlike refined wheat bread, pasta and cereal, refined gluten-free foods may not be enriched or fortified with B-vitamins and iron. Look for gluten-free enriched foods.

–   Gluten-free baked goods do not have the same texture or mouthfeel as foods made with gluten. Some manufacturers add fat and sugar to improve the taste of gluten-free foods. This may help the taste but does not enhance their nutrition profile.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Josef Jan Rosenfeld June 13, 2014 at 3:13 pm

nice and refreshing.

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