Just like any diet or eating plan is not for everyone, neither is a gluten free diet.
If you’ve read my articles and visited my website, you probably already know I don’t jump on bandwagons or change my stance just because something is trending. Mass media and extremist internet hype do not guide my life choices or my views, especially when it comes to health and nutrition.
Maybe it’s just me, but it makes me more than a wee bit nervous to think anyone makes health decisions based on the Twitter rant of a teenage pop star or the latest weight loss craze sweeping Hollywood. Why put our trust in people with zero training in research, health, and special diets nutrition?? That’s risky business!
Like you, I prefer to get my information from people who dedicate their lives to finding unbiased facts about health, nutrition, and wellness – leading research scientists.
And when it comes to a gluten free diet being for everyone, regardless of what anyone tells you, reliable research scientists say it plain and simple, loud and clear:
For individuals without CD or another medical issue requiring a gluten free diet (like Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, Dermatitis Herpetiformis, or another autoimmune disorder), there is no research supporting the idea that a gluten free diet is a healthier one.
That’s the message from top researchers like the esteemed Dr. Peter Green, Celiac expert at Columbia University’s Celiac Disease Center.
In fact, Dr. Green says going gluten free when it is not medically necessary may be harmful.
Other experts – Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center; Dee Sandquist, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; and professor Joanne Slavin with the University of Minnesota’s Food Science and Nutrition department, to name a few – agree.
That’s because key vitamins and minerals (like B vitamins, folate in particular, and iron) as well as fiber may not be consumed in adequate amounts on the typical gluten free diet.
What’s the typical gluten free diet?
I’m pretty sure I’m the first to use this: It’s the SAGFD. That stands for the “Standard American Gluten Free Diet”. You know how we’re always hearing about SAD, the “Standard American Diet” and how horrible it is because it consists of pre-packaged, fat- and sugar-laden convenience foods? Well, judging by the extremely high sales figures for pre-packaged gluten free convenience foods, the SAGFD isn’t much better.
The market is literally exploding with new gluten free goodies. I’m no marketing expert, but I know enough to tell you if there wasn’t a demand for pre-packaged gluten free cake mix, Betty Crocker would not be refashioning her formula. The demand is overwhelming, although it shouldn’t be.
I’m not saying we don’t need gluten free options in the marketplace, but I’ve warned you about those products before.
The majority of gluten free products on the market are loaded with extra sugar and fat (and don’t forget about those gut-clogging gums and food additives most of them contain!) in an attempt to mimic their gluten-filled counterparts. That’s not my opinion, either. Turn the box over and read the label for yourself. (Feel free to cringe when you do.)
What I’m telling you leads to two obvious questions:
1. What about those of us who must eat gluten free? Are we at risk for nutrient deficiency?
2. What about all those people who do not technically need to be on a gluten free diet, but report feeling better and having more energy after “going gluten free”?
1. For those of us on a medically necessary gluten free diet, 90% of the foods we eat should be a wide variety naturally gluten free foods like in-season fruits and vegetables (how about that gorgeous edible rainbow up top??), lean animal proteins (like meat, fish, poultry, and eggs if you eat them), and gluten free whole grains, seeds, and nuts. If that is the case, then we’re likely getting all the nutrients we need. BUT, if we eat the SAGFD (lots of pre-packaged convenience foods and mixes and not enough fresh produce and natural foods), then we are at risk of nutrient deficiency. At the very least, we’re likely to have low energy and feel icky.
2. Individuals who claim to feel better than they have in years probably do. That’s likely due to the fact they eliminated “typical” gluten-filled foods from their diet: Breads, cakes, doughnuts, cookies, pizza crust, bagels, and the like. It makes sense that they would feel better! Those foods are generally non-nutritive and aren’t ones that should make up the majority of our diet – gluten free or not.
When we add more fruits and veggies to our diets, we experience a nearly immediate positive return in our health, especially when it comes to energy levels. That’s important, too, because who doesn’t need more energy on a daily, consistent basis?? I know I do!
While food trends and bandwagons tend to be fast-moving, those of us who must be on a gluten free diet are here to stay. Our health is serious business, and that’s exactly how we’re going to treat it.
I’m serious about your health and well being. That’s why I research timely topics about CD and gluten free living to share with you.
I hope you’re finding it beneficial. If you are, perhaps you’d like to have all my articles and recipes delivered straight to your inbox. I’d love to have you sign up for my free eLetter, the “Daily Gluten Free Fix”.