One of the most popular diets has become the “gluten-free” diet. Lately this kind of diet has come under scrutiny by medical professionals. Because of its popularity, many more people are experiencing the positive and negative effects that can come along with eating gluten- free. Some people must eat a gluten free diet because they have a condition called celiac disease. Someone with celiac disease suffers damage to the lining of their small intestine that is caused by a reaction to eating gluten. Like all medical conditions, this disease must be diagnosed by a doctor.
What is becoming more popular is that people without celiac disease are starting to eat a gluten free diet. Some people are diagnosing themselves as having gluten intolerance and others do it in an effort to improve their overall eating habits. Unnecessarily eating a gluten free diet can cause nutrient deficiency and other health complications. For example, if you’re on a gluten free diet, you can’t eat most whole grains. Whole grains lower your risk of heart disease, type 2-diabetes, and some forms of cancer. There are a few whole grains that don’t have gluten like quinoa, but they can have more fat, calories, and sodium then 100 percent whole grain bread.
In a report by the American Dietetic Association, most gluten free foods are nutritionally deficient in B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber. Just like all categories of foods, some gluten free foods are full of fat, sugar, and salt. There have been no medical studies showing that eating a gluten diet is good for your health unless you have celiac disease. Another common negative side effect that some people experience on a gluten free diet is weight gain.
There are some positive effects of going on a gluten free diet. For example, improved digestion, decreased inflammation, and more energy are some of the positive effects people experience while on a gluten free diet. Most people on a gluten free diet eat more fruits and vegetables to substitute the grain products they used to eat. Before you make a decison about gluten free diets, let’s compare the pros and the cons:
- Improves the digestion of food
- Increase mood and energy
- Decreases some inflammation in the body
- Can lead to nutrient deficiency
- May cause weight gain
- Lose out on benefits of eating low fat, low calorie, and low sodium whole grains.
If you want to know if a gluten free diet is best for you, contact your general physician or a gastroenterologist.