Gluten free: myths and realities

There are many edible products that have the phrase “gluten-free” on their labels, which gives the consumer the idea that eating gluten-free is beneficial. For this reason, we may have heard from someone who has suddenly decided to purchase only products with this labeling.

Around gluten-free diets there are all kinds of myths that, when we analyze them closely, we realize that they pose various health risks and that the benefits become uncertain. It should be noted that this analysis is not intended to cause alarm but rather to create awareness.

Common sense when selecting, buying and consuming is essential and, therefore, we must learn to maintain it. 

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein present in foods that contain wheat, barley or rye, which can affect people with celiac disease, sensitivity to non-celiac gluten and irritable bowel syndrome.

About 1% of the world’s population is gluten sensitive. However, it has been observed that throughout the last decade the adoption of gluten-free diets by people who do not need it at all is becoming more frequent.

Gluten-free foods are increasingly present in supermarkets.  The perception of a harmful effect of gluten is related to advertising and marketing, creating the idea that eating gluten-free is beneficial for everyone equally.

Eating gluten-free does not mean being healthier

In a study conducted in Australia, no evidence was found of any nutritional advantage of gluten-free foods versus foods that contain gluten.

Gluten-free foods do not have a differential advantage that makes them nutritionally better than traditional foods.

Let’s now look at the reality about eating gluten-free:

  • First, foods labeled gluten-free may have other ingredients added, such as trans fats or sugars.
  • Second, gluten-free foods can have the same or more calories, so by eating them (and excluding other foods at the same time) you will not lose weight.
  • Gastric symptoms will decrease only in people who have gluten sensitivity.
  • Finally, if you do not suffer from any sensitivity to this protein, it is likely that these diets are not for you.

Living without gluten is not the solution

If you think that removing gluten from your diet will be the solution to your health problems, I’m sorry to tell you it won’t be like that. It is still unclear whether reducing gluten, instead of avoiding it, would be enough to control symptoms in patients with gluten sensitivity or irritable bowel syndrome .

When we remove gluten from our diet without being necessary, we can consume significantly lower amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, folic acid, iron and calcium .

Some gluten-free foods may be higher in saturated fat and cholesterol, affecting cardiovascular health.

In conclusion

  • If you don’t have any medical diagnosis related to gluten consumption, you don’t have to make a diet free of wheat , barley or rye.
  • In the variety is the success of a healthy diet.
  • It includes other cereals such as corn, spelled and rice without eliminating gluten, so you will achieve balance.

In short, eating a gluten-free diet without needing it can be risky for your health. Therefore, it is important not to succumb to the messages that product labels and advertising in general can send us.

If you have doubts about how to eat a balanced diet, according to your needs, consult your doctor before making any changes. On the other hand, do not forget to solve all your concerns with the professional, since he will know how to guide you in the right way.

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