The Good, Bad and Ugly of a Gluten-Free Diet
Many people have chosen to follow a gluten-free diet, which has become rather trendy in the past few years. Although this type of eating plan is essential for patients who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, many who follow the diet don’t have this disease. Instead, they think of it as a healthier way to eat and believe it will help them lose weight.
Gluten-free diets are a mixed bag, however. While they play a vital role for people with celiac disease, they can cause problems for people who don’t have this condition. In this blog, the medical team at Gotham Medical Associates in NYC outlines the good, bad, and ugly effects of a gluten-free diet.
What is gluten?
Gluten refers to the proteins that are found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. It acts as a glue that holds foods like bread, cereal, and baked goods together. It’s also present in some foods that may not be obvious sources of gluten, such as salad dressing and soups.
What are the positives of a gluten-free diet?
For most people, gluten doesn’t cause any harm. But for people who have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the intestines are overly sensitive to gluten, it can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and anemia, which can lead to serious complications.
If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, following a strict gluten-free diet will become an essential part of your treatment, since it will reduce your symptoms as well as the level of inflammation in your intestines.
What are the negatives of a gluten-free diet?
Many people without celiac disease choose to follow a gluten-free diet. It’s probably because they think it’s healthier or because they believe it will help them lose weight. But if you haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease, it’s unnecessary – and even harmful – to follow this type of diet, which could cause the following issues:
- Weight gain - A diet without gluten may cause you to lose weight in the short term, but that’s probably because you’re cutting out many processed foods. In the long term, you’ll probably reach for gluten-free alternatives to processed foods, which often substitute sugars and fats for gluten. This results in weight gain over time.
- Nutritional deficiencies - Avoiding foods with gluten can cause you to not get enough of many essential nutrients, including iron, calcium, fiber, folate, and riboflavin. A lack of these vitamins and minerals can have a significant impact on your overall health.
- Expense - Foods that are labeled as gluten-free usually cost significantly more than their gluten-containing counterparts. If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, eating this type of diet is worth the cost because it’s important to maintaining good health. But if you don’t have this disease, buying gluten-free foods can waste money.
- Lower immune function and intestinal issues - A gluten-free diet may lower your body’s immune system function, since the components that usually cause problems for people with celiac disease are thought to help promote the both of good bacteria. In addition, this type of diet can trigger intestinal symptoms in people who don’t have celiac disease.
For more information about a gluten-free diet and celiac disease, make an appointment today at Gotham Medical Associates. We have three convenient NYC locations and specialize in the diagnosis and compassionate care of patients with digestive disorders.