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Ask Dr. Nandi: Gluten-free diet not healthy for everyone

Posted at 3:31 PM, Dec 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-17 17:36:34-05

Gluten-free foods can be found just about everywhere. And many people including well-known celebrities are still touting the gluten-free diet.

But it turns out, this trendy diet is not for everyone.

Many people see this as a way to lose weight. But a diet without gluten can definitely have a downside.

One of the main concerns is not getting enough nutrients. When you eat processed wheat products like bread and cereals, they are fortified with iron or B vitamins.

That’s something gluten-free substitutes may not have.

They may also not have as much fiber, a nutrient way too many Americans are already not getting enough of. Also, quite a few gluten-free products tend to have more sugar and fat in them, as this helps them taste better. Plus, they can have just as many calories as their wheat equivalent, so this could interfere with dropping extra weight.

The gluten-free diet was created for those who have celiac disease, a condition where gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley causes trouble by damaging the lining of the small intestine.

This can prevent nutrients from being absorbed and lead to issues like osteoporosis, nerve damage, and infertility.

Now I have heard plenty of people who don’t have celiac disease say they feel better after going gluten-free. That’s likely because they are eating healthier and avoiding simple white carbs like cookies, cakes, and pasta.

If you really want to cut out gluten, here are my prescriptions:

  1. Don’t replace gluten foods with packaged gluten-free products. Instead, choose fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and gluten-free whole grains.
  2. Be sure you’re getting enough fiber. Awesome options include quinoa, amaranth, brown rice and millet.
  3. Always read labels. That way you know you’re not replacing gluten with unhealthy sugar and fat.
  4. Be careful not to fill up on too many rice products. The FDA is monitoring them for small amounts of arsenic, which long-term exposure is linked to certain cancers and heart disease.