Gluten-free diets have been popular lately with gluten being blamed for being overweight and causing bloating but experts warn that partaking in a gluten-free diet when not suffering from celiac disease could do more harm than good.
The popular diet that is used by many celebrities, propelling it into the mainstream, involves cutting out all foods containing grains like wheat, barley and rye, such as bread and pasta.
The study published in the Journal of Pediatrics warns that alternative foods contain a higher amount of sugar and fat and have almost no nutritional value. Lead author of the study, Dr Norelle Reilly, of Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, states there is no evidence that gluten causes weight gain and toxicity, according to CBS News.
“There is no evidence that processed gluten free foods are healthier nor have there been proven health or nutritional benefits of a gluten free diet. There are no data to support the theory of intrinsically toxic properties of gluten in otherwise healthy adults and children. Gluten free packaged foods frequently contain a greater density of fat and sugar than their gluten-containing counterparts.”
“Obesity, overweight and new-onset insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome have been identified after initiation of a gluten-free diet.
“It also may lead to deficiencies in B vitamins, folate, and iron, given a lack of nutrient fortification of many gluten-free products.”
The hereditary autoimmune condition, celiac disease is treated by eliminating gluten from the diet but only a handful of people suffer from this. The amount of gluten-free products has increased sparking people to believe going gluten-free will have many benefits.
Worryingly, children suffer the most on a gluten-free diet with many parents believing they are bringing up their kids healthily but in fact they are prohibiting them from the nutrients they need to grow.
“Gluten-free diets are appropriate for some individuals but certainly not for all,” Reilly said. “Guidance from an experienced physician or dietitian can really go a long way to sort through the abundance of information available regarding this diet.”