Is Gluten bad for you?

So, gluten is the new buzzword these days.  I've seen everything from coffee, to toothpaste, canned diced tomatoes, underwear (well, ok, maybe not), name it, it's all claiming to not have the horrific gluten.  I mean things that have never even had gluten in them to begin with are claiming to be "gluten free". I think I recently saw it on a pack of licorice.

Sales of gluten free products have grown 30% a year from 2006 to 2010 (mercola,2011)  This sends out a radar alert to the food industry advertisers that this is a gateway to getting the American public to open their wallets.  This is why you see everything from dog food to toothbrushes claiming to be "gluten free".

I'm not trying to make light of people who have very real intolerances to gluten, but lately advertisers have been using this as the next weight loss miracle.  Can you lose weight if you avoid gluten?

Let's look at some facts:

  • We know that gluten is a protein that can be found in wheat, barley, rye and many other food additives.  This accounts for the weight loss that's experienced when eating gluten free.
    Most of the gluten is found in processed foods and if you stop eating the processed foods, then inevitably there will be weight loss that occurs.  So I guess the answer to the weight loss question is yes.
  • Those that are particularly vulnerable to gluten products are those with Celiac's disease.  These people have an inability to digest the gluten.
  • There's also been evidence that ties psychosis and schizophrenia to gluten and that a substantial reduction of this protein in the diet results in decreased symptoms (Kraft et al, 2009)
  • If you cut gluten out of your diet, it isn't a quick and easy fix.  It could take as little as 30 - 60 days for inflammation to subside and as long as 9 - 12 months before the lining of your small intestine will heal.

    Here are some grains/flours that are naturally gluten free:

    *Flax & Amaranth

Do I think it's worth it to avoid gluten?  I'd say you have to be the judge.  If you have the patience and are willing to cut out all things gluten and want to wait to see how it affects, or has been affecting you, I'd say go for it!  It would require that you take all things gluten out for 90 days and then re-introducing it back into your diet and see if it has an ill effect on you.  If all is well in your digestive tract right now, then I'd say carry on.

If you've just discovered that you are gluten intolerant or are in fact have celiac's disease, check out these websites to get yourself started and start on your way to a gluten-free living in exciting and delicious ways!

How to begin your gluten-free life.

Learn about gluten free flours.

Back to Carbohydrates

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