It’s been a common trend now days to walk into the grocery store and find that the packaging on food labels says “Gluten Free”. It appears that the market for Gluten free products is at an all-time high. Well, I think that this is incredibly awesome for those people who have Celiac Disease! But what about those people who do not have Celiac Disease? Is it really necessary to follow the “gluten free” trend? Is this a necessarily healthier diet choice? Basically, the answer is No!
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition that typically occurs in genetically predisposed individuals where the ingestion of gluten can cause severe damage to the small intestine. Symptoms of Celiac Disease include diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, anemia, bone pain, and sometimes skin rashes. Therefore, avoiding gluten secondary to a diagnosis of Celiac Disease is pretty much essential to quality of life. A diagnosis of Celiac Disease is confirmed by blood testing to detect the antibodies related to the abnormal immune response.
So what about the rest of the world who do not have Celiac Disease, because research reveals that only about 1% of Americans have Celiac Disease? Going Gluten free can mean missing out on a lot of nutritious foods. Gluten is a protein found in whole grain foods such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Gluten itself isn’t all that nutritious, but the whole grains found in gluten are rich in vitamins, minerals, iron, and fiber. Studies have implicated that whole grains can help decrease the risk of some forms of cancer, heart disease, and Type 2 Diabetes. The 2010 Guidelines for Americans actually recommends that half of all carbohydrates come from whole grain products.
The moral of the story: if you have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease going gluten free is very necessary for your health. But if you do not have Celiac Disease, going gluten free is putting you at risk for nutritional deficiencies.