Does gluten-free ben­e­fit ev­ery­one?

The Calvert Recorder - - Medical Guide -

If the num­ber of gluten-free prod­ucts stock­ing store shelves and ap­pear­ing on restau­rant menus are any in­di­ca­tion, then the gen­eral pub­lic has em­braced gluten-free liv­ing. Many peo­ple eat gluten-free di­ets de­spite not hav­ing Celiac dis­ease, which is a con­di­tion that re­quires peo­ple to avoid gluten. How­ever, a vol­un­tary gluten cen­sor­ship may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.

Less than 1 per­cent of Amer­i­cans are gluten-in­tol­er­ant or af­flicted with Celiac dis­ease. De­spite this, the pop­u­lar­ity of gluten-free di­ets tripled be­tween 2013 and 2014, ac­cord­ing to re­ports from The Kitchn. Al­though peo­ple who are sen­si­tive to gluten may feel bet­ter avoid­ing it, Dr. Daniel A. Leffler, di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal re­search at the Celiac Cen­ter at Beth Is­rael Dea­coness Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Bos­ton, has said oth­ers will de­rive no sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit from gluten avoid­ance and will sim­ply waste money buy­ing the more ex­pen­sive gluten-free al­ter­na­tives.

Peo­ple with per­ceived gluten sen­si­tives may not have aver­sions to gluten at all. Ac­cord­ing to a study con­ducted by Monash Univer­sity and pub­lished in 2013, peo­ple with self-re­ported non-celiac gluten sen­si­tiv­ity, gluten only caused neg­a­tive symp­toms when sub­jects knew they were eat­ing it. When they be­lieve the food to be some­thing else, par­tic­i­pants ex­peri- enced no symp­toms.

Other med­i­cal ex­perts say that gluten may not be to blame for sen­si­tiv­ity, which may be a re­sult of fer­mentable, poorly ab­sorbed, short-chain car­bo­hy­drates (FODMAPs), like grains, beans, dairy, and some fruits. By re­mov­ing the grain (gluten in­cluded), af­fected in­di­vid­u­als feel bet­ter, think­ing gluten is to blame.

Those with no rea­son to avoid gluten could be putting their health at risk by skip­ping wheat and other grains. A re­cent study from Har­vard Med­i­cal School says those who avoid gluten may be harm­ing their heart health. The study, which tracked the eat­ing habits of 64,714 women and 45,303 men over a pe­riod of 26 years, found that long-term avoid­ance of gluten in adults some­times caused the re­duced con­sump­tion of hearthealthy whole grains that af­fect car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk. Study leader An­drew Chan said that in­di­vid­u­als who con­sumed the low­est lev­els of di­etary gluten had a 15 per­cent higher risk of heart dis­ease. The study con­cluded that the pro­mo­tion of gluten-free di­ets among peo­ple for whom it is deemed med­i­cally un­nec­es­sary to avoid gluten should not be en­cour­aged.

There may be other rea­sons to con­tinue to eat gluten. A study pub­lished in The Bri­tish Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion, ti­tled, “Ef­fects of a gluten-free diet on gut mi­cro­biota and im­mune func­tion in healthy adult hu­man sub­jects,” found a gluten-free diet may ad­versely af­fect gut flora and im­mune func­tion. This po­ten­tially puts peo­ple at risk for an over­growth of harm­ful bac­te­ria in their in­testi­nal biome. An­other study pub­lished in Bio­science, Biotech­nol­ogy, and Bio­chem­istry found that gluten may boost im­mune func­tion. Af­ter roughly a week on added gluten pro­tein, sub­jects ex­pe­ri­enced in­creased nat­u­ral killer cell ac­tiv­ity, which could be help­ful in im­prov­ing the body’s abil­ity to fight vi­ral in­fec­tions and can­cer.

A gluten-free diet isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a healthy one. While such a diet may be nec­es­sary for those with Celiac dis­ease, un­less a doc­tor has de­ter­mined a per­son needs to avoid gluten, it is wise to in­clude whole grains in a bal­anced diet.

Metro Creative

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.