Gluten-Free Diets can be very dangerous
Gluten-Free Diets can be very dangerous
Although only a very small segment of our population, roughly 35,000 people in all of Canada need to be on a gluten-free diet because they have Celiac disease, a huge segment if our population has jumped on this diet because they think it has health benefits.
When William Davis’s book, the Beer Belly Diet became a number one seller, millions of people were convinced that their indigestion and weight gain were due to gluten. The truth of the matter was that it was not the gluten that caused all the problems but the products that contained gluten such as bread, cookies, muffins and a wide variety of starchy foods. In any case, millions jumped on his bandwagon and opted for the gluten-free diet.
This would have been a good idea if we actually did it right. A true gluten-free diet means that nearly all your food is prepared at home, no fast food and your diet is rich in protein, fruits and vegetables. This is because nearly all of our prepared foods from salad dressings, to cereals and frozen dinners contain gluten. And finally you avoid products that contain gluten such as bread and pasta.
However, this was too much of a change for most of the population and food manufacturers were right there to jump on the bandwagon and produce a huge variety of gluten-free foods. Soon Rice Krispies removed barley malt so they could say they were gluten-free. Campbell soups brought out a whole line of gluten-free soups. In a short period of time we had gluten-free salad dressing, potato chips, hot dogs, veggie burgers, licorice pickles, beer, vodka, toothpaste, makeup and even playdough. This was all in addition to the gluten-free breads, cookies and pasta.
My favourite was a gluten-free Eucharistic wafers sold to churches for communion. When the priest was ready to put the wafer I your mouth were you asked regular or gluten-free?
The problem was that when the food manufacturers replaced the gluten in all these products they had to add large amounts of fat and sugar to maintain some of the taste. These new gluten-free products lack important vitamins and fibre and are made with substitute starches such as rice and tapioca flour that have no nutritional value at all. However, they do have a very high glycemic index and that actually makes this diet dangerous for Type 2 diabetics or even people with borderline blood sugar issues.
Of course when the food people made all these gluten-free products that are actually bad for your health, the price went up. Gluten-free foods are on average 242 per cent more expensive than their “regular” counterparts. It has become a huge business and everyone has jumped on the fad in order to sell more products.
Furthermore they are higher in fat and lower in protein than their regular counterparts and this means much less nutrition for the average person on this diet. This also means that the average person on a gluten-free diet will certainly gain weight because of the increased amounts of sugar and fat and the deceased amounts of protein and fibre. It also means that a person who never had blood sugar issues before could become borderline diabetic if they switched to this diet by using all the prepared gluten-free foods.
In my opinion, unless you have Celiac disease you should never go on a gluten-free diet. It is easy to diagnose Celiac with a blood test and a minimal biopsy of the intestine. Or you go completely gluten-free for one week and if your symptoms completely disappear you may be Celiac. You have to be careful because gluten is everywhere, even in ketchup and coffee, noodles spices, processed meats, imitation seafood and even vegetarian substitutes. Also sometimes they use other names for gluten such as triticum valgare or hordeum vulgare or secale cereale. Other ingredients that contain gluten are bulgar, couscous, farina, malt and seitan.
This means a complete study of nearly every label in the supermarket or completely avoiding any prepared food. However teas and coffees are hard to avoid.
The bottom line is that for most people this is a very unhealthy diet that surely will cause weight gain and may lead to blood sugar problems.
If you want to lose weight and are concerned about gluten then you stop eating bread, corn potatoes and pastries and you will lose weight for sure. Combine that with a little aerobic exercise and you will be much leaner, healthier and happier than before.