Dietitians are taught to be skeptical of any diet trend that professes to be the answer to all your physical ills. Over the past few years the gluten-free diet has been gaining just this sort of notoriety. The gluten-free diet is said to have cured headaches, promoted weight-loss, improved sex and energy levels and even your child’s behavior. The difference in this case is that the gluten-free diet is a genuine diet presciption for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. And no doubt if you have celiac disease you are going to feel lots better once you remove the irritating gluten from your diet.
But the question is, if you don’t suffer from celiac disease, will a gluten-free diet benefit your health?
An EWS Glossary of terms:
Gluten: protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten gives baked goods their texture, strength and structure. Celiac Celiac disease: ” a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats”. Per the PubMed Health. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Wheat allergy: This is different from celiac disease because the allergic reaction does not involve the intestinal tract but people still need to avoid wheat products, so they must follow a wheat-free diet.
As a skeptical dietitian my first answer is that there is no added nutritional benefit to this diet unless you have one of the above medical conditions and I would stand by that in almost every case but,as usual, there are exceptions. Celiac disease is becoming more common among the general population in almost every countries. Even in China, where it was once thought that ethnic Chinese didn’t get celiac disease, the prevalence is growing. There is a consensus that more people are sensitive to gluten than previously thought and are probably going undiagnosed.
The best way to find out if the diet can improve your well being is to have a blood test. If the test is positive then change your diet. Changing to a gluten-free diet is much easier said than done. Gluten-free means eliminating all wheat products from your diet and that will be more than just your morning bowl of Wheaties. Eliminating gluten means avoiding pasta and pancakes as well as muffins and naan bread. And you will discover that wheat is added to much more than baked goods, you will need to read labels and avoid soy sauce, no small task in China. If you would like to find out more about living on a gluten-free diet sign up for an excellent workshop on the subject this Saturday at The Wellness Works. http://www.the-wellness-works.com/living-a-gluten-free-lifestyle-seminar.html
If you are really interested in losing some weight, improving your stamina and sex life then eat more fruits and vegetables and get 30 minutes of exercise a day and do it for the next 30 days. I guarantee your life will improve. Not trendy, but it works.
Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun !