In recent years, there has been a huge trend especially in Hollywood that going on a gluten free diet is good for you and aids weight loss. I have been searching for good articles that prove the statement somewhat untrue and finally found this good article from Jamie Oliver. Read it to find out more.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. It’s perfectly natural, but people with coeliac disease, gluten intolerance, or the much less-common skin condition, dermatitis herpetiformis, can have nasty reactions if they eat it.
Why Gluten Free Diet?
With coeliac disease, the body’s immune system reacts to consuming gluten by damaging the lining of the small intestine, which interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Gluten intolerant or sensitive people experience negative reactions to gluten, but do not actually have coeliac disease. To add to the confusion, you can also have a wheat allergy, which is an aversion to wheat itself, so a gluten-free product may not necessarily be OK for those with a wheat allergy. With so many different causes, conditions and symptoms, diagnosis is extremely hard, and there is a lot of misinformation about gluten.
Reason It “Helps” With Weight Loss
If you don’t have one of the above conditions, removing gluten from your diet has no direct effect on your health at all. The low-carb and high-protein diet phenomenon is the main reason, I believe, many people choose to go gluten-free. Gluten is the protein found in many of our main sources of starchy carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta. By going gluten-free, you are limiting your sources of carbohydrates, a method many in fact use to aid weight loss.
Those choosing to avoid gluten will likely avoid these types of products, but a gluten-free equivalent cake or biscuit, with nothing different other than the removal of gluten, will be no healthier than their gluten-containing equivalents. Sometimes gluten-free products can even be higher in fat, sugar and salt to improve their flavour or texture. Not only that, but by excluding whole groups of foods, you are putting yourself at risk of lowering intakes of certain vitamins and minerals.
So, whilst this surge in popularity is amazing for those with dietary requirements and absolutely something to be celebrated, the rules for staying healthy are the same whether you are going gluten-free or not. There are plenty of naturally gluten-free carbohydrates to choose from – rice, potatoes, quinoa and millet, as well as a gluten-free flours and pastas. Ultimately, unless you suffer from coeliac disease, dermatisis herpetiformis, gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, then there’s really no benefit to choosing gluten-free products.