Until about a decade ago, researchers suggested that gluten-free diet is healthy and good for people suffering from rare health conditions, such as celiac disease or wheat allergies.
But, paradoxically, many people who didn’t have celiac disease stocked their houses with gluten-free products. The reason was that people perceived it healthier. And it became trendy when various celebs such as Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow favoured gluten-free diet and revealed its several health benefits.
In the last 3-4 years, several Gluten-free products flooded the market. Moreover, they became increasingly popular among the mainstream. Supermarket aisles overflowed with low gluten or gluten free foodstuffs and even many restaurants started offering gluten-free options.
But the question arises here is that whether having gluten-free diet is good for health or not.
What Study Says
Recently, an article has been published in The Times, based on a cohort study conducted by the scientists from Harvard University, that says the long-term consumption of gluten in people without celiac disease not put them at risk for coronary heart disease, but the avoidance of beneficial gluten products such as barley, rye and wheat may be associated with increased cardiovascular risk.
Therefore, people without celiac disease should not eat gluten-free products only. A gluten-free diet lacks various vitamins and minerals. And people who just follow the gluten-free fad might get a deficiency of these important nutrients.
When a Gluten-Free Diet Is Essential
If you have any of these conditions, you should follow a gluten-free diet:
It is a lifelong, usually genetic, auto-immune disorder that occurs when villi (small finger-like projections that help in digestion), in the digestive tract get damaged and starts triggering an abnormal gluten response. People with this health condition experience symptoms such as cramping, bloating or skin rashes even when they eat a very little amount of gluten. A doctor suggests blood tests and a small bowel biopsy for treating celiac disease. According to the NHS, about 1 in 100 people has celiac disease in the UK.
People who are gluten intolerant do not have damaged villi but they experience bloating, weariness, diarrhea or headaches after consuming foods containing gluten. Thus, they find a gluten-free diet helpful. No data suggest the number of people with gluten sensitivity; however, it is estimated that possibly one in 10 people experience it.
What Health Professionals Suggest
Medical professionals don’t want to see people without celiac disease on gluten-free diets because they say gluten grains are beneficial for health, associated with reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and other chronic health issues.
If some people have an allergy to a certain food, it does not mean that everyone should avoid eating that food. No study has yet proved that an intake of a gluten-free diet has any significant positive effect in general people. Instead, a study suggested that there is an adverse effect of a gluten-free diet on people without gluten-sensitivity or celiac disease.
Even, another study discovered that the triglyceride level improved in people having a high gluten bread better than those eating a regular gluten bread.
Self-Prescribing of Gluten Withdrawal is dangerous: The problem occurs when the sufferers try to self-diagnose themselves by eating foods that do not contain gluten. And then it becomes difficult for doctors to find the disease.
Hence, health professionals suggest that celiac suspects should contact the GP or doctor and get a formal diagnosis. Also, they should not stop eating foods containing gluten without doctor’s suggestion.