is usually There a Downside to Going Gluten-Free if You’re Healthy?

“Gluten-free substitute foods tend to have more fat, more sugar as well as more salt than gluten-containing counterparts, in general,” Dr. Lebwohl added. Gluten provides elasticity in dough as well as helps thicken various processed foods, so the item can also be found in products like energy bars as well as deli meats. To compensate for the loss of texture, Dr. Lebwohl said, “gluten-free substitutes are often less healthy.”

Starting a gluten-free diet can also “interfere with the ability to detect celiac disease,” said Dr. Lebwohl, because the two abnormalities picked up by the primary testing tools for celiac disease — a blood test, which looks for certain antibodies, as well as a biopsy, which looks for intestinal damage — can normalize after just a few weeks of eliminating gluten.

“One of the frustrating scenarios for both doctor as well as patient is usually when a patient has quite a few symptoms, starts a gluten-free diet, feels a lot better — maybe 0 percent better — yet we still don’t know if they have celiac or not,” he said. “If someone is usually experiencing symptoms of which might be related to celiac disease, of which person should get tested first, before starting a gluten-free diet.”

While much has been written in books as well as online sources about the purported benefits of avoiding gluten, such as weight loss, cognitive well-being as well as overall wellness, these claims are not supported by evidence. Though some patients with irritable bowel syndrome, or I.B.S., may see symptoms improve after cutting out gluten-containing foods, research suggests the item’s likely to be a result of something additional than gluten.

Only about 1 percent of Americans have true celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder, as well as should follow a strict gluten-free diet. Another 6 percent or so have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a milder condition tied to digestive problems as well as additional symptoms of which does not result in a positive test for celiac disease; observing whether symptoms improve after a trial elimination of gluten is usually the main method of diagnosis.

For everyone else, following a gluten-free diet is usually not advised. Still, a 2013 report by the NPD Group, a market research firm, found of which as many as one in three Americans were trying to avoid gluten.

“The potential adverse health effects of gluten in those sensitive to the item have reverberated in cyberspace, creating the impression of which gluten is usually a bona fide toxin, harmful to all,” writes Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in his forthcoming book, “The Truth About Food.” “This particular is usually false; gluten is usually not ‘bad’ for those tolerant of the item, any more than peanuts are ‘bad’ for people free of peanut allergy.”

“Avoiding whole grains because you’ve heard gluten is usually bad is usually like avoiding whole fruits because you’ve heard fructose is usually bad,” Dr. Katz said in an interview. A diet without gluten is usually most often associated with the inclusion of what he calls “ultra-processed, gluten-free junk foods” as well as the exclusion of highly nutritious whole grains. “Avoiding the item systematically produces net harm both to diet as well as to health.”

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