If you are like me you hear about the gluten free (GF) diet a lot. Also if you are like me, you really aren’t sure what exactly a gluten free diet is.
I had some idea, I knew that it was related to wheat consumption but other than that I was pretty ignorant of the subject. While I still am no expert on the issue I dug into the topic and came up with this quick synopsis cover the basics of the GF diet.
A gluten free diet is basically a diet that doesn’t involve the consumption of the gluten protein complex which is found in barley, rye, and especially wheat.
Let me get this point across, for healthy individuals there is no scientific evidence that there are any benefits from eating a gluten free diet.
Actually the opposite is true. Some studies have found that when a healthy individual eats a gluten free diet they can actually be harming themselves by decreasing the population of beneficial gut bacteria which can decrease your immune system (we’ve all heard of probiotics).
Even so, gluten products are in high demand as this diet becomes trendier; the products had an annual growth rate of 28% between 2004 and 2011!
The GF diet is actually a medically prescribed diet used to treat celiac disease. This autoimmune disease affects the small intestine, inducing pain and discomfort.
Over time this response to gluten can cause inflammation which can prevent the absorption of nutrients leading to deficiencies.
The Mayo Clinic has this to say regarding celiac disease, “The intestinal damage can cause weight loss, bloating and sometimes diarrhea. Eventually, your brain, nervous system, bones, liver and other organs can be deprived of vital nourishment.”
Other symptoms of this disease include anemia, skin rashes, heartburn, nervous system injury, and many more.
Children are also affected by this disease with 75% of the cases being in obese or overweight children. Individuals with celiac disease are the main group of individuals that use a gluten free diet along with people who have gluten or wheat allergies.
Doctors may also prescribe not eating oats due to the possibility of cross-contamination during milling. Other deficiencies can accompany this diet due to its composition. These include iron, fiber, and folate deficiencies.
Now, when you see a supplement or medicine bottle that has the gluten free label you will know exactly what it is talking about.
It means that product is ideal for individuals with any of the above listed conditions (and more possible conditions). That being said, if you aren’t afflicted by any of these conditions you are only causing harm to yourself by eating gluten free.
Forget this fad diet, healthy individuals who only eat GF products can be causing themselves to be malnourished or even harming their immune system!