Are you thinking of going gluten free? You may want to think again!
The only available treatment for those with coeliac disease/celiac disease, is a lifelong adherence to a gluten free diet. A gluten free diet benefits individuals with an intolerance to gluten, and radically reduces, and eliminates, the uncomfortable side effects of gluten consumption. Unfortunately, it now appears that going gluten free may lead to nutrient imbalances resulting in a diet lacking in sufficient nutrient quality.
A gluten free diet – results
The results of a very recent study found that the diets of individuals who had adopted a gluten free diet were found to be poorer in fibre, as well as low in Vitamins D & B12, folate, magnesium and calcium, when compared to the diets of people who consumed gluten (and did not adhere to a gluten free diet). Moreover, lower iron consumption was found in females adhering to a gluten free diet, whilst men consumed less Zinc on a gluten free diet
Why was this?
Well, gluten free products tend to be lower in fibre. Where the fibre is present in wheat/gluten containing products, like bread, cereal & pasta, this majority of this fibre is removed in the production of gluten free products (in attempting to remove the gluten). In addition, it is only recently that gluten free products are being fortified with vitamins & minerals, to make up for those lost in processing and production (not that this is necessarily an optimal decision, but perhaps *an improvement*)
[Of course, if you end up replacing bread, cereal, pasta for nutrient rich vegetables & fruit, and perhaps increase your consumption of protein from dairy, fish & meat, then you will be unlikely to encounter a nutrient deficiency.]
Should I go gluten free?
I’m asked this question on a number of occasions by people interested to know more about gluten. If you do not suffer any noticeable discomfort or abnormality gluten consumption, then I don’t – at present – see any real need for you to completely eliminate gluten. As long as the majority of your diet comes from whole, fresh, minimally processed food, then consuming ‘some’ food containing gluten should not be an issue. That being said, there does appear to be a subset of the population who, whilst not being coeliac, do appear to encounter mild symptoms of discomfort with gluten consumption. In these cases, it WOULD be prudent to opt for a gluten free alternatives. These people are being labelled with Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), and it’s assumed that between 5 & 25% of the population have this. (About 1% of the population are coeliac).
This isn’t always clear cut, however, and some people may actually be wise to choose low-fodmap alternatives. A low-fodmap diet appears to be clinically successful in treating and managing the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You can read more about the low fodmap diet here & low fodmap foods here.
Did you read this article on Gluten? There’s a video too, and it explains some of the reasons why people are going gluten free
Going gluten free – bottom line
If you consume some bread, cereal, pasta etc. and don’t appear to have any repercussions, then continue. If you’re consuming a lot of bread, cereal, pasta etc. you may instead want to look more closely at your diet anyway, and make improvements in general. If you do in fact feel better consuming less gluten, then continue with that also. However, ensure you consume a wide variety of meat/fish, fruit, vegetable matter, and plentiful helpings of dairy, along with carbohydrates like beans, oats and rice to ensure that you’re consuming an optimal intake of vitamins & minerals, and avoiding a potential deficiency.