South Beach, Atkins, macrobiotic, raw, vegan, and now gluten-free. All of these are diet trends that have risen to fame in the last 15 years. Promising to help us drop the pounds and feel more fabulous than ever with little to no effort, we often find years later that there may be a downside to these trends. Atkins left many Americans with soaring cholesterol. Vegan diets left Americans protein, calcium, and iron deprived. Now the removal of wheat, barley, and rye seen in gluten-free diets may be taking more away from us than just our pasta.

Let’s start with the benefits. As a recent Daily Beast article promotes, the celebrity approved removal of gluten from your diet can lead to a decrease in sinus problems, tiredness, and acne, not to mention weight loss. These benefits are not a revelation however. For decades doctors have been promoting this diet to their patients suffering from the autoimmune disorder, celiac disease.

Celiac disease is a condition where peoples’ bodies cannot properly process gluten, specifically when it comes into contact with the small intestine. While people who do not suffer from celiac disease may also see some physical improvements once going on a gluten free diet, there may also be negatives due to improper nutrition.

It turns out that gluten-free eating removes a good deal of prebiotic fibers from your diet. These prebiotic fibers promote the absorption of calcium, strong healthy bones, and lower intestinal cancer factors, to name just a few. As the Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology website explains “Prebiotics [...] are the necessary plant fibers that contain both oligofructose and inulin.  These two fibers are the main nourishment for the good bacteria that reside in the gut. [...] Wheat and wheat products provide over 80% of the prebiotics that North Americans ingest.”

People suffering from Celiac Disease who need to remove gluten from their diets are usually aided by dietitians who inform them of how they will need to adjust their diets to continue to get proper nutrition. As a person removes such large portions of prebiotic fibers from their diet they must either take a supplement or replace the wheat that they would be eating with other high prebiotic fiber foods such as raw chicory root, raw Jerusalem artichokes, and raw dandelion greens.

It is not that gluten-free eating is an unhealthy diet. Quite to the contrary, gluten-free living provides many people relief from pain and physical problems every year. The greater problem is the immediate desire to try diet trends without all the information necessary to enter into a new lifestyle choice. Gluten-free diets can be a wonderful healthy way to lose weight and possibly take care of some other physical problems such as acne or tiredness. At the same time however, the help of a doctor or dietitian is always the best way to enter into any new eating regimen.

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14 Responses to “Pass the Potatoes, Not the Pasta: What We Gain and Lose from Gluten-Free Diets”

  1. I am delighted to see that you picked up on the information buried in the medical literature in the 1990s. When I found this info, I wrote a letter to the editor of the British J of Nutrition which was online several months ago and is now in print in their recent print journal. I think it has made its way around from there.
    I want to complement you on your site and, in particular, the information you give to the public. It is good stuff without the imbellishments you often find. If you give me your email address,
    I would be glad to send a copy of my letter to the editor to you. It has all the references.
    Again, well done on your work. By the way, I am retired now, but the Jackson Siegelbaum web site you reference and the practice were all mine and done as a solo practioner. Am now retired from that but up to my ears in prebiotics. Where did all that energy come from?

    Frank Jackson MD

  2. Dear admin, thnx for sharing this blog post. I found it wonderful. Best regards, Victoria…

  3. It is so difficult to lose weight. I think I have used everything to help me but nothing work could you give me your view on the best method to lose weight for good?

  4. I began eating more grains in my meals and it has helped to reduce my cholesterol levels

  5. I’m not really sure if this is a related symptom or not, but lately i’ve been getting very fatigued early in the day. Do you think it’s because of gluten sensitivity?

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  13. I found a great diet program a couple of months ago, that helped me lose a load of weight. I was really skeptical at first, as they were going on about wholegrain pasta, as being rubbish for losing weight but then my mate whose a bit a fitness freak explained how bodybuilders eat pasta to put on mass. Anyways I gave it a try, and it was really good. I managed to lose 2 stone.

  14. allergy mom says:

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