BOSTON, Mass. Celiac disease is an inherited auto immune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. And over three million Americans have it. Going gluten free has been a good choice for these people, but healthy American’s looking to shed a few pounds should not necessarily follow a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free foods are selling like hot cakes, especially for those looking to drop a few pounds. But certified holistic health coach, Author/Founder of New Day One Life Nutrition, Mary Mcalary says gluten-free dieting isn’t smart for everyone.
“I think that if you do not have celiac and you do not have a gluten sensitivity, I mean why go gluten-free?” said Mary McAlary, a Certified Holistic Health Coach and author of New Day One Life Nutrition.
A Harvard researcher agrees and also points out gluten-free foods’ high prices don’t necessarily mean they are more nutritious.
Geng Zong, PhD, a Research Fellow at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health said, “People want to buy … spend more money on healthy food, that’s one reason. Second is there is more processing procedure behind the production of gluten-free food.”
And Zong says when gluten is cut out completely, your risk of chronic disease rises.
“So if you avoid gluten you may lose part of the nutrients from whole grains and whole grains have shown to be very beneficial for your health in fighting type 2 diabetes and cardio vascular disease and cancer,” Zong said.
The bottom line is …
“If you don’t have a medical reason to avoid gluten, we don’t think you should,” Zong said.
So listen to the experts. Be smart not trendy.
Cutting out junk food and processed food is always smart, and eat more whole grains. The whole grains specifically are the most beneficial and consuming three servings a day is ideal.
GLUTEN FREE ISN’T ALWAYS GOOD
BACKGROUND: The U.S. Department of Agriculture created the original American Food Guide Pyramid in 1992. This pyramid listed that an individual should eat at least 6-11 servings of whole grains per day and that whole grains were one of the most important food groups. This solidified the prevalence of wheat and other grains in the American diet, around the time that celiac disease cases began rising. Some researchers believe the rise in gluten intolerance is due to the increase in grain consumption while other research suggests that wheat cross-breeding over the last thousand years may be the reason for the spike in celiac disease. However it is agreed that more research is needed to determine whether today’s wheat composition has a negative impact on health.
ABOUT GLUTEN: Gluten is a protein composite that in Latin means “glue” and it helps bind grains together like wheat, barley and rye. It is crucial in making dough rise and is responsible for the chewy, flexible texture in wheat products such as pasta and bread. Gluten is harmless enough to most people, but for one percent of the population, it can cause negative reactions such as indigestion, nausea, fatigue, headaches, depression and even skin rashes. It wreaks havoc for those suffering from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that destroys the small intestine, as well as the food and restaurant industry since sufferers must avoid gluten at all costs in order to escape the symptoms of severe nausea and stomach pain. It is estimated that another one in seven people have some type of gluten intolerance or sensitivity to cause them discomfort, but not the full-blown celiac disease. There is a two-step process to determine if you have celiac disease which involves a blood test to determine if there is a presence of intestine-attacking antibodies caused by gluten, and if positive, a biopsy (or series of biopsies) is taken to determine if there’s intestinal damage. There is no medical test for gluten sensitivity and it is usually diagnosed by default for those who do not have celiac disease but feel better on a gluten-free diet. (Source: http://www.medicaldaily.com/brief-history-gluten-protein-baked-goods-how-wheat-intolerance-has-risen-over-years-353244 and http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20479423,00.html)
GLUTEN FREE DIETS: So, is giving up gluten good for you? Yes, if you have sensitivity towards gluten or have been diagnosed with celiac disease. If celiac suffers don’t delete this protein from their diet, over time it can cause a risk of osteoporosis, infertility, heart disease or certain cancers. However, the verdict is still out as to whether a gluten-free diet helps if you’re not having any symptoms. Gluten Free “diets” have soared in popularity in recent years. If you’re doing it because you think foods with gluten are bad for you, think about this: Your body thrives on different types of fuel, including healthy carbs (like whole-grain breads and cereals) that have gluten. By cutting them out, you may not get what your body needs to have enough energy and feel your best. So, eating gluten-free when there’s no medical need to do so won’t boost your health and might even harm it. In fact, many gluten-free products on the market can be unhealthy because of the extra sugar and fat that manufacturers use to simulate the texture and fluffiness feeling that gluten imparts. Another potential pitfall is that these products are less routinely fortified with iron and vitamins B and D than regular bread products. Some wise decisions if you experience gluten sensitivity and are planning to go gluten-free include selecting more fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and gluten-free grains like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat, rather than purchasing prepackaged products labeled “gluten-free”. These products are evolving and may become healthier overall as manufacturers develop ways to fortify them.
* For More Information, Contact:
Geng Zong, PhD Marjorie Dwyer
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health Media Relations Manager