Miley Cyrus recently tweeted about giving up gluten saying everyone should try it for a week. I actually decided to give up gluten for two weeks to experience what a patient might go through. I happened to be curious because so many people “anecdotally” tell me that they feel bloated when they eat pasta or bread (some people will just lump all white foods into that category).
Elisabeth Hasselback wrote a book about it. Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jenny McCarthy are doing it… should you? There are some individuals who have a sensitivity, allergy and intolerance to gluten. Celiac disease is the formal name for the auto immune disorder which causes individuals to have an inability to absorb gluten and cause gastro intestinal problems. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Grains that do not contain gluten are quinoa (pronounced Keen-WA), buckwheat (kasha), millet, rice (brown and white), and amaranth.
Gluten free products are not calorie free, nor is eating a gluten-free diet “healthier” for individuals without an absorption issue. It is wonderful that food manufacturers have created product lines to meet the dietary needs for people with food allergies – especially gluten. Taste, texture and cost are arguably not the same. People who eliminate gluten from their dietary intake are at risk for nutrient deficiencies: B vitamins, calcium, Vitamin D, iron, zinc, magnesium and fiber.
Research looked at adults who were “gluten free” for 10 years and found they had low levels of folate (Vitamin B6) and high levels of homocysteine – which are risk factors for heart attack, stroke and vascular disease. In addition, those who are gluten free are at increased risk for osteopenia, osteoporosis, and iron deficiency anemia.
With the exception of celebrities – who tend to have other disordered eating habits – most patients have reported to me that they have increased their body weight since eliminating gluten from their diets versus losing weight. As for my experience, I did not lose any weight. I did not feel any different – no better nor worse. In fact, during my gluten free experiment, I found it rather frustrating to keep the gluten foods “out” while dining out.
Some people report they lose weight because, essentially, they end up on a low carbohydrate diet – which will be a forthcoming blog. Get a diagnosis from a physician to ensure other health and gastro-intestinal concerns are addressed.
Just because celebrities do something – we all should not rush to emulate their behaviors. Those who have food allergies or food insensitivities always wish they did not have to restrict their intake. Creating too many food rules may end up leaving you with nothing left to eat! Stick to eating foods closer to the way they are found in nature, watch your total caloric intake and please, please, please, get some daily physical activity!