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Gluten Free Diets – Are They Worth it?

It’s impossible not to notice the current trend of gluten free diets. A shocking 30% of Americans have adopted this food lifestyle choice. This diet that has been used by the likes of Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Victoria Beckham and is said to help with weight loss, keeping in shape and even can help with certain health problems… But are there really health benefits to going gluten free if you’re not a sufferer of Celiac disease?

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What is Celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a rare disease that affects 1% of the population and means eating gluten damages the lining of your gut and therefore your body cannot digest food in a normal way and cannot absorb necessary nutrients from food. In order to heal the lining of the gut, gluten has to be cut from the diet completely and it can take from between 6 months and 5 years for the lining to heal and function normally. Cutting all gluten from your diet puts a huge restriction on food, eating out can become complicated and stressful and in general your diet becomes more expensive.

Does a gluten free diet help with weight loss?

Gluten free diets are popular because there is often an initial period of weight loss when gluten is cut from the diet. This is due to the fact that a lot of fatty foods contain gluten – junk foods, beer, bread and pasta will be swapped with fruit, vegetables and yoghurt. It is not the lack of gluten itself that is causing a weight loss, it’s simply putting yourself on a better diet!

The feeling of wellness and high levels of energy that come within the first few weeks of going gluten free are not necessarily due to the lack of gluten but simply thanks to cutting out sugar-filled snacks that happen to contain gluten.

Experts state over and over again that there are no health benefits to a gluten free diet if you are not a sufferer of Celiac disease. Gluten is a natural part of our diet, it’s not the gluten that needs to be cut out, it’s the sugary and fatty foods!

Can a gluten free diet do more harm than good?

Through embarking on a gluten free diet when you do not suffer from Celiac disease you are setting your body up for a deficiency of nutrients that are found in whole grains. On an unnecessary gluten free diet you’ll miss out on fibre, iron and important vitamins such as vitamin B.

It’s worth noting that if you simply replace gluten containing products with their gluten free counterpart you won’t necessarily be doing yourself any weight-loss favours. These products are often high in sugar and fat (and therefore calories) and just because the label says ‘gluten free’ it isn’t necessarily healthy.

Our suggestion

Instead of going completely gluten free, why not cut out all the unhealthy junk food and swap it for vegetables and fruit but keep in natural whole grain foods such as bread, pasta and cereals to ensure your body gets the nutrition it needs to function.

If you think you may in fact be gluten intolerant you need to go to the doctor and have tests done to define if you have Celiac disease. Before going to the doctor don’t cut out gluten, you need to have a gluten rich diet before these tests in order to be able to understand how your body reacts to it!

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