Why all the hype about gluten-free diets?

The only thing wrong with moving to a gluten-free diet is that you will end up paying more money for much less nutrition, and create a higher probability of weight gain. Hey, other than that you might as well go with the latest food fad. Now of course if you are truly gluten intolerant/sensitive (e.g. celiac disease sufferers) you must eat gluten-free, but keep in mind only 1% of US population is truly gluten intolerant/sensitive (GS) (up to 6% may be gluten-sensitive). Therefore others who claim it either think they are based on spending too much time on the Internet or listening to friends, or they’re just dead wrong.


Unfortunately some health professionals have jumped on the bandwagon. GS is quickly becoming that catchall diagnosis health professionals may use when they aren’t quite sure what’s wrong with you - like hypoglycemia and chronic fatigue syndrome used to be. To be fair, all of these problems exist but in a VERY small percentage of the population. Sadly enough, you may feel better when removing gluten from your diet but its only because you changed or removed something else at the same time. You can’t remove gluten by itself. You end up removing the entire food that contains gluten and it may have been a high-sugar, bleached, starched or fatty food that you should not have been regularly eating in the first place. In other words, foods don’t just contain gluten; they contain lots of things that might have made you previously uncomfortable. In the same vein, simple changes in lifestyle at the same time you went gluten-free may be what makes you feel better – not the removal of gluten. At least not for the majority of the 94% the population that is NOT GS.

 

Some quick facts on gluten:

  • Gluten is a protein found in wheat that can cause mild to severe stomach distress and autoimmune disorders in people unable to process it properly such as people with celiac disease. As mentioned above, GS only affects ~6% of the population and requires a true gluten challenge to the patient’s digestive system, delivered by a qualified physician to properly diagnose, so these people do know who they are
  • Gluten is contained in many healthy foods like whole grains including wheat. The consumption of whole wheat/grain products is associated with a significant reduction in chronic disease and improves the feeling of fullness (satiety)
  • Gluten-free diets can cause undernourishment and weight gain
    • Most gluten-free foods contain fewer vitamins and less fiber than gluten-containing counter parts; both are important to long-term health and weight control
    • Many gluten-free products have added fat, sugar and salt to help replace lost taste and texture normally supplied by gluten
    • It’s not uncommon to gain 20lbs in the first year after switching to a gluten-free diet or certainly have more difficulty in controlling appetite
  • Because of reformulation expenses, gluten-free products average costs are 2-3 times higher than their naturally gluten-containing counterparts
  • Many products that are naturally gluten-free (in other words they never contained gluten) now put a “gluten-free” claim on the label, adding to the fad’s confusion
Anyway the point is DON’T buy into the fad because it will NOT make you healthier by itself. But it does have a high probability of making you poorer and could potentially increase your risk for weight gain and chronic disease. Most experts believe the fad will eventually peak, just as the low carbohydrate craze did in 2004, which led to the bankruptcy of many companies that jumped on the bandwagon late. So if you’re on, get off, unless you've been properly tested and a gluten-free diet has been prescribed. If you are thinking about it, stop thinking because in the long run your body will tell you what you can and can’t eat, not the Internet or fad propaganda.

PS -- All dotFIT products are gluten-free, except most of the bars.  See a complete list of gluten-free dotFIT Products here

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