Lots of people have to adopt gluten-free diets because they suffer from celiac disease. That said, gluten-free diets have also become a trendy fad diet in recent years among people who believe that eliminating gluten from your diet will inevitably make you healthier. A recently published article in The Journal of Pediatrics shows that this is not the case, however.
In the article, gastroenterologist Norelle Rizkalla Reilly laid down some facts about gluten-free diets that should make you think twice before deciding to forever swear off your favorite local bakery. First, she notes that a lot of gluten-free products actually have more calories and fat than their gluten-filled counterparts.
“Gluten-free packaged foods frequently contain a greater density of fat and sugar than their gluten-containing counterparts,” she writes. “Increased fat and calorie intake have been identified in individuals after a GFD. Obesity, overweight, and new-onset insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome have been identified after initiation of a GFD. A GFD also may lead to deficiencies in B vitamins, folate, and iron, given a lack of nutrient fortification of many gluten-free products.”
She then takes a hammer to the notion that there’s something inherently unhealthy about consuming gluten by noting that “there are no data to support the theory of an intrinsically toxic property of gluten for otherwise-healthy and asymptomatic adults and children, and certain studies have specifically demonstrated a lack of toxic effect.” Because of this, she argues that “there is arguably no role for a GFD for children outside of treatment of CD and wheat allergy.”
While none of this means that you need to go back to eating gluten tomorrow, it does indicate that people should be more aware of the benefits and drawbacks to going gluten-free.