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Monday, 27 February 2012 11:03

Is Gluten, a Dietary villain as “salt” or “sugar”? Featured

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It’s time to check reality, read more to know about Gluten-Free Diet Reality and Misconceptions

glutenfreeRecently I have encountered with many patient asking me about gluten-free diet and its health importance. Everybody seems fascinated by gluten-free diet. The internet access, newspaper and health magazines open new window for diet and health conscious people. Gluten is seems as an additional baddie after salt and sugar.
The concept of gluten-free diet is becoming much popular today, and trend is commonly seen in celebrities or athletes. You can easily find food products carrying ‘gluten-free’ label in the market.
As sugar is harmful for diabetes and salt is bad for high blood pressure patient; likewise gluten is considered risky for those millions of people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Over the past decade, consuming gluten-free diet is turning out as fad, because people think that it is a healthier diet, boost energy, help in weight loss and useful in other clinical conditions.

Is it really true? Is there adequate scientific background supporting such findings? Is gluten-free diet well for everyone? Here are certain realities and reality check regarding gluten-free diet, which will help you to clear your idea about going gluten-free.

Gluten-free diet:  Reality

Gluten free diet is a diet that excludes gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten imparts elasticity to dough and, hence gives sticky texture to final food product.
Gluten is commonly present in food products such as bread, pasta and wide range of processed foods. It can be used as a food additive for flavouring or stabilizing purpose. Gluten is not only present in foodstuff but also found in some medicines and vitamin supplements or even in liquorice.
Researchers have shown that gluten consumption is harmful for certain population. For such people, complete avoidance of gluten from diet is only way to live life.

Many scientific findings have shown the effectiveness of gluten-free diet in following clinical conditions.

  • Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disorder characterized by destruction of the small intestinal villi and, hence interference with absorption of nutrients from food. Such damaged villi are unable to absorb food nutrients leading to gastrointestinal symptoms and nutritional deficiency.

The only treatment for celiac disease is to follow a life-long gluten-free diet. Patients who adhere to such diet typically report an improved health-related quality of life, according to University of Chicago, Celiac Disease Centre.

  • Gluten sensitivity

Gluten sensitivity is a clinical condition distinct from celiac disease, where patient exhibit adverse effects when they ingest gluten without any intestinal damage. Patients are always test negative for celiac disease.

Gluten-free diet offers good remedy for such patients.

  • Dermatitis herpetiformis

According to study published in GUT, An International Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, skin blisters in Dermatitis herpetiformis respond well to gluten-free diet.

  • Autism

Researchers have shown that severity of autism is directly related to consumption of gluten. Hence, consumption of gluten-free diet offers good result in controlling symptoms of autism.

Potato, rice, tapioca, soy, amaranth, bean flour, plain meat, fish and fruits and vegetables are some of the common gluten free foods that does not contain gluten in any form or contain less than harmful level.

Even today ice-creams, candy and baking mixes are available as ‘gluten-free’.

Gluten-free diet: Misconceptions

Healthier or Helps in weight loss: People consider that gluten-free diet is healthier and help in weight loss. According to the experts, case is not like that. Gluten-free products are not at all fortified; hence such food products can lead to nutritional deficiencies when people consume them without any medical indication. Moreover, gluten-free diet is higher in carbohydrates, fat and sodium and lower in fibre so it can’t be healthy for body.

Controls Migraine/ ADHD: Another common misconception about gluten-free diet is that it helps people with migraines, ADHD and Down’s syndrome. But till now there is no scientific evidences supporting these findings.

As per author’s commentary posted in Annuals of Internal Medicine and published on, adopting gluten-free lifestyle when you really don’t need it is just a waste of money. There are no scientific evidences to support the health benefits of going gluten-free in otherwise normal people.
They write, “This clamor has increased and moved from the Internet to the popular press, where gluten has become ‘the new diet villain,’”
Guandalini, medical director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center says, “Someone who needs to be on a gluten-free diet and is closely monitored can benefit tremendously from it.”  He added, “But for everyone else, embracing this diet makes no sense. “

So if you suppose that you are gluten sensitive, see your doctor before choosing gluten-free diet.

Guten free recipes- Indian 



Read 18158 times Last modified on Monday, 27 February 2012 12:03


  • Comment Link Akash Tuesday, 13 March 2012 22:10 posted by Akash

    Your article ofcuses on `gluten free`grain substitutes, which are still grain based. In my opinion, you`re right, that this has reached a `fad`point in that people are implementing artificial variations without really thinking about it. The best way to remove glutens is to remove grains completely. Of course this limits the abilities of restaurants to sell pasta, since all pasta would be eliminated. `Gluten free`grains are highly processed and therefore have no place in a paleo diet. Simply removing the gluten from grains does not provide the full benefit of removing all grains and processed foods completely from the diet. The science is not all in yet but employing a reductionist approach of removing a specific toxin has never worked before. Eat whole foods. There is no safe way of eating grains whole, so it`s best to avoid them altogether.By the way, grain free eating, or paleo in general, is not restrictive eating, although most people initially lose weight eating this way. You will see a lot of people here talking about starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes. Along with meat and animal fats, this lifestyle is far from restrictive.

  • Comment Link Iann Sunday, 04 March 2012 13:37 posted by Iann

    The amount of people who have problems with Gluten has grown exponentially over the last few years. Over the last 20 or so years, and especially over the last few years, the mineral levels in all our food, including grains, has diminished drastically. Low mineral grains are very suseptable to fungal and mold infections, not always seen by casual observers. Often it these organisms that are causing the gluten intollerances, and may destroy the villi producing Celiac disease. Not to mention the well known chemical damage, etc.

    Are we looking at the leaves and branches and not looking for the root. To kill a gum tree, you need to kill the root. If you cut it down it will just sucker up and grow again. Too often this is what we do, even in Naturopathy.

  • Comment Link Ritz Tuesday, 28 February 2012 17:00 posted by Ritz

    The toxicity of gluten based grains, particularly modern wheat, exceeds both salt & sugar. Please review the botanical, biochemical properties thereof. Gluten is only one of the toxic substances present.

  • Comment Link Dr. Glen Tuesday, 28 February 2012 11:27 posted by Dr. Glen

    Whole wheat flour and products are healthful to most...but enriched white flour and products are the nasty culprits. The contemporary gluten-free craze is a marketing gimmick with no empirical evidence. Granted, a small percentage of individuals suffer from gluten intolerance, but it may be that many of those are intolerant to enriched white flour products and also the unhealthful chemicals combined with such products (e.g., high fructose corn syrup). Enriched white flour is really no different to the human body than ingesting pure sugar, and can have a pernicious effect on insulin levels. Humans have been eating whole grains for at least six thousand years, and our bodies have evolved during that time to adjust. It is only in the last decades that enriched white flour has been available. Additionally, and in accordance to the traditions of the health and wellness arts that I teach and coach, table salt and sugar are among the Seven White (dietary) Evils:
    1. Sugar - 2. Table Salt (not to be confused with natural sodium found in vegetables/grains/fruit) - 3. Hydrogenated Fats/Trans Fats/Lard - 4. Enriched White Flour - 5. (processed) White Rice - 6. Dairy Products - 7. Cooked White Potatoes
    Eat to Live, by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a wonderful book in which all its info is empirically substantiated. Also, please check out my new book (it speaks of "light foods," vs. "heavy foods" in Chapter VI, The Theory of Lightness: The Physical Facet): and my new YouTube video:

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