Is Gluten Bad for You?

Is going-gluten free really all that it’s cracked up to be? Our resident licensed nutritionist-dietitian weighs in.

By Romer Estrada

As a practicing dietitian, I am well aware of the many diet fads nowadays. The most that’s being thrown around these days is the Gluten-Free Diet.

While this is good news for people with celiac disease, who for health reasons should not eat wheat with gluten, a gluten-free diet is not exactly healthier.

Peter H.R. Green, MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, told WebMD. “The market for gluten-free products is exploding. Why exactly we don’t know. Many people may just perceive that a gluten-free diet is healthier.”

But bad is it? So here’s the lowdown:

What is Gluten?

Gluten. We have heard of it, but I’m definitely sure that most people don’t really know what it is.

Some say that it’s wheat; others say that it’s an allergen; while others say that it’s toxic and should be avoided at all cost because Gwyneth Paltrow says so.

But gluten is actually a protein found in cereal grains that give bread and pastries elasticity and acts as binder when being kneaded in its dough form.

So should we avoid it? There’s really no need for us to avoid gluten if do not suffer from certain medical conditions that require its elimination in our food.

The Gluten-Free Diet should only be applied to people suffering from celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity (existence still debatable), or just wheat allergy.

Is it Bad?

Being suspected as one of the culprits to weight-gain, gluten is now being avoided by many people who are trying to lose weight.

But again, there are no significant studies which substantiate the claim that gluten is a hindrance to our weight-loss escapade.

In fact, according to the Scientific American Magazine, it can even give adverse health effects since low-gluten food products are usually packed in refined form therefore, lacking fiber and other essential nutrients.

Also, since gluten acts as a binder to the ingredients of your bread, the lack of it necessitates more fat and sugar to give your bread a firmer structure. Ergo, the weight-loss claim is technically counterproductive, unless you want brittle and more expensive bread for breakfast.

Lack of evidence is also evident in its detox effect.

It’s actually great to know that there are lots of gluten-free products available in the market now especially if you have valid issues to it.

But for the rest of us, we don’t need it. We should all know how to sense it when companies are capitalizing in people’s fears. And for this case, there’s not much to worry about.

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