This Is The Real Truth About A Gluten-Free Diet!
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. This protein helps foods hold their shape. Most cereals, bread, and kinds of pasta contain gluten.
Some people have a gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which gluten damages the small intestine, and nonceliac gluten sensitivity is a food intolerance that leads to discomfort after eating gluten.
However, a survey by a market research company found that up to 30% of adults in the United States are trying to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet. Many of them do not have celiac disease.
In preventing autoimmune diseases, reduce inflammation or treat depression and fatigue, a gluten diet is being recommended by physicians and nutritionists. This even prescribed for those with autism. None of these indications has a scientific basis. Nor is it true that removing gluten from one’s diet increases energy, as is often claimed. One study of competitive cyclists found that a gluten-free diet did not increase energy output.
Whether you have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or just an interest in nutrition, you’ll want to know about these four gluten truths:
• There’s a big difference between a gluten allergy and sensitivity
When a person is truly allergic to gluten they have celiac disease. The language is important here. If you react to gluten but do not have celiac disease then you are not allergic. I usually caution people from telling waiters that they have a gluten allergy unless they truly do because this cannot be taken lightly. Individuals with celiac disease are extremely sensitive to the smallest amounts of gluten and need to maintain a gluten-free diet for life. For these individuals eating gluten leads to an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine. This leads to poor nutrient absorption and other complications such as osteoporosis, infertility, nerve damage and seizures. Celiac disease is diagnosed with a blood test that looks at antibodies against a protein called transglutaminase which can be confirmed through a biopsy. To get a true positive test, the person must have gluten in their system before taking the test.
• Gluten Sensitivity is Valid, even without Celiac Disease
A study from July of 2016 found that gluten sensitivity in the absence of celiac disease can lead to damage in the epithelial lining of the intestines.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is associated with symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, anxiety and cognitive difficulties. The immune response associated with celiac disease is very different from those with gluten sensitivity. This study showed that those with wheat sensitivities (IgG and IgM mediated responses) consistently had elevated markers that are correlated with a compromised intestinal lining which were not seen in the healthy cohort or the celiac disease cohort.
More research needs to be conducted but gluten can negatively affect those without celiac disease.
• Processed Gluten-free Foods Do Not Deserve a Health Halo
Studies have shown that individuals place a health halo on organic foods, meaning that they feel less guilty eating organic processed foods and tend to overindulge. When individuals are given cookies labelled organic vs. regular, they tend to eat more organic cookies because they perceive organic cookies to be healthier. But metabolically, a cookie is always a cookie—whether it’s organic or gluten-free. This is true for any nutritional claim slapped on the front of a food package. Avoid placing a health halo around processed gluten-free foods. The benefits of eating gluten-free come from eating nutrient-dense whole foods and cooking most of your meals at home.
• ‘Certified Gluten-free’ Foods are Less Likely to Contain Gluten
For those avoiding gluten, be aware of unidentified sources of gluten. A 2015 market survey found that some foods labelled gluten-free or foods without wheat, barley, and rye listed on the ingredient label still contained gluten. For a product to be certified gluten-free, it must contain less than 20ppm of gluten. In the market survey, 1.1% of the foods tested had levels of gluten higher than 20ppm. They found products that contained oats that weren’t necessarily ‘certified gluten-free’ were strongly correlated with a positive gluten test result. Even though oats are technically gluten-free they can still contain some gluten. It’s important to buy foods that have certified gluten-free oats to avoid any risk of exposure. The safest bet is to look for the certified gluten-free symbol and eat mostly plants that come from the ground.