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5 Reasons Why Most Of Us Should NOT Go Gluten-Free

By Layne Lieberman, RD, Culinary Nutritionist and author of “Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy”

A small percentage of the population that greatly benefit from following a gluten-free: These are the estimated 1 to 2 percent of people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease and the 0.2 to 0.4 percent who suffers from wheat allergy.

So what about the rest of us, the 98% of the population that hasn’t been diagnosed with celiac disease or a wheat allergy?

grains

Some of the biggest diet buzzwords right now are gluten-intolerance or gluten-sensitivity but there’s no test to determine if an individual actually has this. The truth is, the gluten-free movement has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Despite what’s written in fear-mongering books like “Grain Brain” and “Wheat Belly”, for most of the population there is no reason to go 100% gluten-free. (I do, however, strongly support eliminating  processed foods like white bread, cookies, chips, pretzels, and cakes.)

Here’s why most of us should NOT be on a gluten-free diet:

  1. Gluten-free diets recommend substituting rice for wheat. This may not be a good idea in the long-term. Rice absorbs arsenic (and cadmium) from the ground. Small quantities in the diet are of no concern. But when rice (or rice flour) is a staple, as recommended in some gluten-free diets, it can be troublesome and may even result in poisoning.
  2.  Restaurant and supermarket gluten-free offerings can be highly processed and  packed with calories, sugar, salt and fat. One half of an Uno Chicago Grill Gluten-Free Pepperoni Pizza has 500 calories, 21 grams of fat, 1040 milligrams of sodium and 6 grams of sugar. Yikes!
  3. Gluten-free products are often void of nutrients and fiber. Most lack iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate found in most enriched wheat and whole-grain products. For example, Betty Crocker’s all-purpose rice flour blend has no fiber and no nutrition.
  4.  Wheat and other grains have proven to be excellent forms of sustenance for thousands of years. Whole-grain complex carbohydrates are the most efficient fuel for the body and provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, fiber, and protein. Grains like amaranth, buckwheat, chia, millet, and quinoa were an important food source for many civilizations. (Learn more about this in my book, “Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy”.)
  5. There is no scientific proof that gluten-free diets result in weight loss or improve health, unless you are part of the small percentage of the population that has celiac disease, wheat allergy, or real gluten-sensitivity. Removing any food group can result in a lower caloric intake, and therefore weight loss, but there are better and more balanced ways to cut back on calories.

 Also Read:

How to Cook Whole Grains on the Stove

Whole Grain Green Tea Pancakes

How to Cook Whole Grains with a Steamer

May 9th, 2014

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(Page 1 of 1, 4 total comments)

Barry

Anyone that feels that they have been contaminated with any of the heavy metals should consider doing a detox with the natural mineral called Zeolite which have been proven to safely remove both heavy metals and radiation from the body.

posted May 27th, 2014 2:09 am


Kathy

A nicely balanced article in contrast to all of the "scare" about CARBS!

posted May 19th, 2014 3:14 am


Margreen

I agree about the non-nutritive substitutes for wheat flour. I'm glad I am not in the same boat as a number of friends and relatives who do have either celiac or extreme insensitivity to gluten.

posted May 18th, 2014 12:30 pm


djb

This is a disappointing and irresponsible article.

Reason #1 that you should keep eating wheat -- "Gluten-free diets recommend substituting rice for wheat." You then describe the potential risks of extreme over-reliance on a new, single grain (rice) as a substitute for an existing over-reliance on wheat. What? Instead of acknowledging that ANY over-reliance on ANY single grain may pose risks, this article says that, because some (unnamed) "diets" recommend substituting ONLY rice for wheat, you should abandon all aspirations of gluten-free and continue eating wheat. What's wrong with you? It's not one or the other -- wheat or rice-only. There are a dozen or more grains, and many more legumes, than can and should substitute for wheat in a gluten-free diet. Comparing a wheat-inclusive diet with an inappropriate diet that relies on rice only is dishonest. An intellectually honest discussion compares a reasonably well-balanced diet that includes wheat with a reasonably well-balanced diet that does not include wheat. Your fear-mongering over arsenic poisoning from stuffing ourselves with rice is NOT a valid reason to continue eating wheat.

Reason #2 that you should keep eating wheat – "One half of an Uno Chicago Grill Gluten-Free Pepperoni Pizza has 500 calories, 21 grams of fat, 1040 milligrams of sodium and 6 grams of sugar. Yikes!" Yes, yikes, indeed. But conspicuously absent is the dietary analysis of the wheat-containing pizza. Come on! Do you think your readers are that stupid? If one half of an Uno Chicago Grill WHEAT Pepperoni Pizza is so much healthier, why don't you just say so. (Because it's not, is it?) You compare something horrible to an empty plate and say, "See, you should keep eating wheat." That's dishonest.

Reason #3 that you should keep eating wheat – some GF flour products are not supplemented with vitamins and minerals like many wheat flours. That's true. But some GF flours are enriched. And some very smart people argue that those *supplemental* vitamins and minerals are hardly the panacea of health and vitality that they've been marketed to be. All over the recent press: supplemental vitamins are a waste of money and have no measurable impact on health. News flash: you get nutrition from FOOD, not from chemicals added to flour. So, you should keep eating wheat, right, because it has these extra vitamins… Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Reason #4 that you should keep eating wheat – because a multi-grain (and whole grain) diet is good for you. Yes! Of course. And every single grain you mention except wheat is GLUTEN FREE, too – amaranth, buckwheat, chia, millet, and quinoa. These are the grains that responsible GF folks eat. The fact that there are a dozen or more grains that are part of a healthy diet is NOT a reason to eat wheat. Dropping ONE grain (wheat) [technically, three: wheat, barley, and rye] from a diet that otherwise includes all these other wonderful grains does NOT threaten the whole multi-grain and whole-grain diet concept. You can drop wheat and still embrace a wonderful, varied multi-grain diet.

Reason #5 that you should keep eating wheat – "There is no scientific proof that gluten-free diets result in weight loss or improve health, unless you are part of the small percentage of the population that has celiac disease, wheat allergy, or real gluten-sensitivity." Where's the scientific proof that it's harmful to abandon wheat in a sensible way? No, don't go looney and compare a sensible GF diet with some bizarro I-only-eat-mud-and-tree-bark diet. There's NO scientific proof whatsoever that an otherwise healthy, multi-grain, whole-grain diet that COMPLETELY excludes gluten is risky, harmful, dangerous, concerning, etc. It is very likely to be EXACTLY as healthy as an identically varied and healthful diet that includes gluten. You know this.

But you aren't interested in objective comparisons that get at the truth. You're interested in biased, misleading comparisons that sound good at first, but that crumble under even the most basic scrutiny. It's dishonest. Your sensationalist blather has no more integrity than the selfish naval-gazing of the "me too" GF fashionistas you criticize.

posted May 9th, 2014 3:15 pm



   
 

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