A recent study has suggested that although only 7% American need gluten-free diet, more than 63% of Americans are conscious of gluten intake and try to avoid it. The most supported claim for this action is the belief that gluten would make them healthy and improve their mental capabilities. Among the most popular beliefs were how a gluten free diet would make these people good digestion, a better immune and digestive system, good memory secondary to increased energy and low levels of cholesterol.
Although, AlessioFasano, M.D., director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston notes that there is very little research regarding the beneficial and harmful effects of gluten.
“Gluten free” is advertised by almost all brands now. Gluten is a protein that is present naturally in grains like wheat and barley and rye. This protein is beneficial for health. Through evidence based knowledge, gluten has good effects on the levels of carbohydrates and blood pressure and maintain a healthy intestinal flora and additionally reduce inflammation.
However in those 6-7% who do require a gluten free diet, it is essentially a toxic substance that damages the intestine. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by gluten-mediated-damage to the intestinal wall. Thus in these patients, the need arises to cut down on gluten.
In contrast to normal thinking; gluten is better, researchers have found gluten free diets to be more harmful.
- Gluten free products tend to have more calories, be less nutritious, and have low levels of vitamin and other elements that is required by the body and finally, these may also be high in sodium content and carbohydrates, both of which are unhealthy.
- Gluten free food are generally rice products, since rice is well tolerable in patients with celiac disease. According to previous researches, the highest levels of arsenic (a heavy metal poison) are found in rice. Since most products contain rice even when the label says they don’t, means there is invariably some exposure to arsenic nonetheless.
- Weight gain is an issue when it comes to a gluten free diet. Celiac disease patients gain weight because they are able to absorb more nutrients then when they were on a gluten diet. On the other hand, healthy people who lose weight is because they revert to healthy eating habits.
- People who may have some other underlying condition may mistake it for gluten sensitive disease and may end up exacerbating their disease.
Researchers suggest that the best way to stay healthy is by reducing carbohydrate intake and eating more fiber, since fiber promotes satiety and fruits and vegetables provide a boost to the immune system..