There’s been a lot of buzz about going gluten-free the past couple of years. Misinformation about gluten and celiac disease has led people to believe that limiting or eliminating gluten from the diet will speed up weight loss, let you kiss that muffin top goodbye once and for all, and improve your overall health. But some people may not know exactly what gluten is and whether or not eliminating it from their diet will actually be beneficial to them.
In reality, unless you have celiac disease, a gluten free diet won’t make you any healthier or help you reach your weight loss goals quicker. Many nutritionists – and even Dr. Oz – agree that unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, eliminating all foods that contains gluten from your diet isn’t a good idea and you may end up nutritionally shortchanged.
Katherine Tallmadge, a dietitian and author of the book Diet Simple, says whole grains, which contain gluten, are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Gluten-free products are often made with refined grains, and are low in nutrients. If you embrace a gluten-free diet, you’ll end up “eating a lot of foods that are stripped of nutrients,” Studies show gluten-free diets can be deficient in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc, she said.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a digestive disorder triggered by eating the protein gluten. People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.
The primary symptoms of celiac disease include intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. Some people with celiac disease do not have the typical intestinal distress but instead have other symptoms including irritability or depression, anemia, stomach upset, joint pain, muscle cramps, skin rash, mouth sores, dental and bone disorders, weight loss, general weakness and fatigue.