5 Reasons Not to eat Gluten-Free

Eating gluten-free has gained a huge following in recent years. For those with Celiac disease, the benefits are obvious. It has become increasingly popular to adopt a gluten-free diet in the absence of Celiac disease according to this study.

Is this trendy? perhaps, but overwhelmingly people on gluten-free diets report feeling better.

Isn’t this just a placebo effect?  Yes and maybe not. The study indicated that the effects a gluten-free diet exceed the normal placebo statistics.  As with any nutrition study, it is almost impossible to have a true controlled comparison, unless the subjects are under lock and key.

Some people avoid, gluten dairy and sugar, and so it can be impossible to know the actual reason for their improvement. People who shun gluten and are not celiac, often report a decrease in the stomach and intestinal issues, less fatigue, and more mental alertness. Obviously, this is not a controlled study. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that those who feel better for whatever reason, experience a better quality of life.

One possible explanation for this is FODMAPS.

FODMAPS are a type of carbohydrates that are known to cause painful intestinal bloating and other symptoms in some people. Wheat is a known FOFMAP.  Eliminating gluten also eliminates the wheat FODMAP. The reason for the improvement is indeterminable.

It is hard to say if going gluten-free is a placebo in those without Celiac. Many people have experienced a better quality of life, with less pain, fewer bathroom visits, and because of that, it can’t be considered a fad.

Is gluten-free right for you? That is hard to say. Here are 5 reasons not to give up gluten

  1. Everyone in your book club is doing it:  Just because your friends are gluten-free doesn’t mean you should do it too. If you have chronic intestinal or stomach problems, consult your doctor first before trying to self-medicate.

  2. Thinking that all gluten-free foods are ‘free’ foods: Many foods that are calorie dense and low in nutrients are marketed gluten-free. That doesn’t mean they get a green light to eat in unlimited quantities. For example, a client came me for help with her self-prescribed a gluten free plan. (for sensitivities) She was baffled as to why she was gaining weight. After looking at her typical day of eating she reported that she had a daily potato chip habit. Her reasoning was that chips were gluten-free so they were a free food. Don’t mistake all gluten-free foods for free foods. Avoid refined substitute foods that are advertised as gluten-free. A good rule is to avoid the claims on the front of a package and look at the nutrition label on for the facts.

  3. Weight loss:  A gluten-free diet is not indicated for weight loss. Eating right for your body is the best way to optimize your weight. This, unfortunately, is unpopular, because fad diets boast quick results. True normalization of body weight, comes from consistently eating right for your body habit change. Consistency, time, and patience are required to make lasting improvements.

  4. Athletic performance: In the absence of a gluten sensitivity or Celiac there is no benefit for an athlete to eat gluten-free.

  5. As a treatment for arthritis: Gluten has been rumored to have an effect on inflammation, but this has not been proven.

Nourishment is meant to be both pleasurable and to provide quality fuel. This is obvious, but bears repeating:  Stop trying to beat the system with substitute foods, and quick fixes. Make minimally processed and whole foods the bulk of your diet. Pay attention to how your body responds and be consistent. One or two weeks are not long enough to know what the actual effects of a new approach are.

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