Are Gluten Free Diets Necessary For Better Health Or Weight Loss?

gluten free diets Maybe you like bread. Maybe you don’t. It doesn’t really matter.

There are many people and celebrities preaching about gluten free diets benefits.

They put the blame on gluten for all the big problems in the world. In a way, this is how communities are born. Uniting many people for a common cause.

The current common cause is fighting against gluten. Now we even have gluten-free  foods and promises that eating a gluten free diet will give you benefits like:

  • Being healthier,
  • Faster
  • Stronger
  • Live longer

On the other side of the spectrum, we see reasons why we must avoid gluten with all cost:

  • It causes joint pain
  • It gives you autoimmune disease
  • It’s toxic for your digestive system
  • It makes you fat
  • It causes inflammation

These are serious accusations. If I were someone that was searching for information about gluten free diet benefits and I found two separate lists like the ones I made you earlier, I would definitely go towards a gluten free diet.

But what’s the truth?

Do you really have to avoid gluten? Is Celiac Disease a decision maker for a gluten free diet? You will find out in a moment. Keep reading…

What Is Gluten

Gluten is a mix of two different proteins found in wheat and other cereal grains like barley, and rye.  Gluten absorbs air and water as bread rises, which gives it a soft and moist texture.

The reality is that even if you are trying to avoid gluten with all cost, you’ve been probably eating it every day for years without even knowing about it. Gluten is not only found in bread.

You can find gluten in many processed foods like salad dressings, and even ketchup.

Is Gluten Bad For You?

There are many arguments against gluten but the most proeminent one is about intestinal permeability. It supposedly gives you a “leaky gut”. Is it true? Let’s see how most people think gluten behaves:

  1. You eat foods that contain gluten. Gluten enters your small intestine.
  2. Inside your small intestine, there are epithelial cells that supposedly get attacked by gluten you just ate.
  3. The space between your intestinal cells widens (supposedly, gluten attacks your cells).
  4. Your bloodstream will get “infected” by gluten and bacteria because of widened gaps between your cells.
  5. You get inflammation because of gluten entering your bloodstream.
  6. You get sick because inflammation spreads through your body.

The results? The theory behind this is that if you eat gluten frequently, your body and gut will stay inflamed. Here’s a list of some common diseases that gets referenced over and over again, and gluten is blamed for:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Insulin resistance
  • Leptin resistance
  • Osteoporosis
  • Gut damage
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
  • Arthritis
  • Headaches
  • Joint Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Heart Disease
  • Tiredness
  • Weight Gain

These are serious accusations against eating grains.

Because I only base my findings on research, the reality is that there’s no research that examined how gluten causes most of these conditions. It’s the same situation as with most supplements on the market.

No research to demonstrate most of the claims. Let’s see who needs to avoid gluten based on available research studies.

Possible Reasons For A Gluten-Free Diet?

Based on research, there are three possible conditions that would require a gluten free diet:

  1. Wheat Allergy
  2. Gluten Sensitivity
  3. Celiac Disease

1. Wheat Allergy

There are people out there that are sensitive to gluten or certain proteins found in meat. Some of the side effects are:

  • Burning eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy dry skin
  • And signs similar to allergic reactions.

If you really believe you are allergic to wheat, there are three main tests you should take:

  1. A small allergen test – they test the upper surface of your skin with a small amount of the supposed allergic substance
  2. IgE blood test
  3. Eating foods that contain gluten

Did you know that ~0.5% of the world’s population is allergic to wheat or gluten? (1, 2).

The reality is that even if you are allergic to wheat, you can pretty much consume wheat containing products depending on the degree of your allergy. This is true in the case of people that can tolerate small amounts of foods that contain wheat.

2. Gluten Sensitivity

Also known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance, people in this condition don’t experience gut damage or increased intestinal permeability.

The most frequent symptoms of people having gluten sensitivity is that they feel sick after eating gluten.

There’s plenty of available research showing that gluten sensitivity exists (3 , 4 , 5) Too many people deem gluten as bad because it supposedly damages your gut. The reality is that it doesn’t do that, even if you might feel sick after consuming it.

People with gluten sensitivity mostly tend to get symptoms like fatigue, numbness, headache, and joint pain (6). If you don’t have any of these symptoms after consuming gluten, you don’t have gluten sensitivity.

3. Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. Your immune system attacks the small intestine lining because of the gluten found there (7, 8). Getting this kind of intestinal damage is preventing the body to absorb all the nutrients properly. The side effects are not pleasant:

  • Short stature
  • Weight loss
  • Skin rashes
  • Neurological problems
  • Nutrient Deficiencies

The most common symptoms people with celiac disease experience are diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain. The best tests to take if you are experiencing these problems are the following:

  1. EMA – Immunoglobulin A antiendomysial antibody
  2. IgA-tTGA – Immunoglobulin A anti-tissue tranglutaminase

If you are found positive on any of the above tests, there’s an ~95% chance you actually have celiac disease (9, 10, 11). About 0.7-1.2% of the world population has celiac disease (12, 13).

If you have similar symptoms like the ones I described but your blood tests show a negative, it’s very unlikely you have celiac disease.

The Main Reason Why You Don’t Need To Avoid Gluten

Less than 10% of the world population has celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy (14) . The chances of you having celiac disease are slim. Even if you believe you have celiac disease, you might be wrong.

There’s no sound scientific reason for you to avoid gluten if you don’t have any of these three conditions. Also, there’s no exact definition of gluten sensitivity.

There are no exact tests that can show you this. While you can experience certain symptoms that are similar to gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, it’s more likely that your problems are caused by other issues like lack of sleep, excess exercise, stress, etc.

Many people do crazy things all the time because they believe it will make them feel better, healthier, stronger, or whatever, and getting rid of gluten is no different. And now, even celebrities are starting to promote all kinds of gluten-free diets.

What You Should Do?

gluten free diet benefits duck There’s no scientific  evidence that having a wheat allergy is health problem for you (15) .

If you don’t have celiac disease, there’s no proof that not eating gluten anymore will make you feel better or protect you against diseases.

Conclusion

If eating gluten don’t make you feel sick, keep eating it. There’s no reason to avoid eating gluten.Enjoy that warm and tasty bagel.

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