Is gluten-free diet a healthier and good for everyone with no disadvantages?
While gluten-free diet is the only treatment for Celiac Disease, a commentary scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics discusses several of the most common inaccuracies regarding the gluten-free diet. I went to a gluten-free group on Facebook and asked opinion from group members who follow a gluten-free lifestyle if gluten-free diet is healthier diet for you and good for everyone without any disadvantages. Here is what they told me.
A group member named Deanna, wrote that there's actually a wide variety of gluten-free diets. You could eat gluten free and completely totally healthy or gluten free and eat nothing but junk.
Gluten free lifestyle is not really healthy, unless you have a medical reason to gluten free, wrote Pat. It is not low calorie and can be as healthy as you make it, she added.
Also See: Gluten free definition on food labeling.
"I agree with Pat," wrote Allison. You can miss nutrients being gluten free, especially if you depend on processed foods. Processed items have extra fats and sugars to make them palatable. Many, probably most, of us here are GF because we have no other option. Also the GF diet is naturally low in fiber, unless you make a conscience effort to add appropriate roughage to your diet. (Click to read: Understanding Processed Foods).
A group member named Bethany, responds. "Low in fiber? We eat so many fruits and veggies can't imagine my daughter not getting enough fiber." To which Allison writes that while fruits have fiber it depends on which fruits people eating and if they eat the skins. "I know when my kids had constipation issues the the doctor always wanted more whole grains, like oats and whole wheat. Well, that was just not happening for my celiac child. Instead there is rice flour, corn starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, not much in the way of fiber. Yes, there is bean flour too, but not many grade schoolers care for it. So, just to fix my post, here is a list of food with fiber."
I received an interesting response from a user named Katrina. She writes "Defiantly healthy as you make it.It's a lifestyle by choice or by 'allergy.' Many loose a little weight starting but if your looking to be healthy and drop weight make your own flour blends because most gf products and blends have a lot if starches in them. I suggest reading wheat belly, grain brain, and fork over knives."
Another user, named Tracy, writes "Do not go gf unless you must for medical reasons please! Bad enough people think it's it's a fad already. People who do it ruin it for us who really do need it. Ready for the backlash LOL."
"Some people who choose to be gluten free are doing it because they are paleo (gluten free is part of the paleo lifestyle). I know a few people who follow the paleo lifestyle because it is healthier. But there is so much more to it than just being gf. Like anything else, it's as healthy as you make it," writes Triccy, but gropu members say unless it's for a medical reason they don't recommend for a healthy person adopting to a Gluten Free Diet.
Do not go gluten free for weight loss
A user, named Wender, writes this. "I would go back to eating everything if it didn't make me sick. Def not for weight loss, your body will get used to the new diet and you will gain. I bake so many gluten and dairy free snacks that are just as high in calories as any regular gluten food. I don't call it a diet I tell people I have 'food restrictions'."
Jessica echoes Wnder and writes "We definitely wouldn't do it if we had a choice. Although my husband and I already ate 85% clean so switching to GF wasn't that big of deal for us since we don't do a lot of packaged food. We just have to be careful when we eat out. He does miss his sweets and bread. I'm going to stock up on GF stuff from Aldis this week. As for the fiber, he eats lots of veggies and drinks Shakeology every day!"
Thus, here is a good clarification. If you decide for whatever reasons to go gluten free it can be a very healthy choice or a very unhealthy choice just like any other restriction or diet or whatever you want to call it. The best thing you can do for yourself is eat clean as much as possible steer clear as much processed food as you can, lots of protein and produce.
GF Diet Is Not a Healthy Choice for Non-Celiac People
The study, mentioned in the first paragraph of this story concluced, that Gluten Free diet is not a healthy choice for people without Celiac Disease. It reads that "in individuals without CD or wheat allergy, there are no proven health benefits. It could increase fat and calorie intake, contribute to nutritional deficiencies, and obscure an actual diagnosis of CD. Another misconception is that gluten is toxic; there are no data to support this theory. A gluten-free diet also is not necessary for healthy first-degree relatives of individuals with CD or for healthy infants at risk of developing CD."
Reference: “The Gluten-free Diet: Recognizing Fact, Fiction, and Fad,” by Norelle R. Reilly, M.D., appears in The Journal of Pediatrics (www.jpeds.com), DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.04.014, published by Elsevier.