The gluten-free diet has become a hot trend, especially in the Western World, but many wonder whether it is really that healthy. According to reports, Americans believe that it does boost health, especially for those who have gluten intolerances.
About 33 percent of Americans will choose to try gluten-free foods, according to a recent consumer report. It shows just how popular the craze has become, and is a reason for grocery stores and supermarkets to have specific sections for these diets. According to the report, 63 percent of people believe that there are health benefits to opting for a gluten-free diet.
The problem is that researchers have found opting for a diet completely free from gluten could cause some health risks. Those who have celiac disease or are sensitive to the ingredient will certainly find that there are benefits to keeping away from it.
To help find out whether there are health risks to a gluten-free diet, experts reviewed the labels of over 80 different types of foods that are considered gluten-free. They wanted to find out what replaced those foods, and determine whether they are healthier options. People believe that opting to avoid the ingredient helps to boost the digestive system and aids with weight loss, among other health benefits.
Consumer Reports spokesperson Patricia Calvo said that the research indicates that a gluten-free diet may not really be as healthy as people believe. In many cases, there is more sodium, fat or sugar within the free foods. This can actually lead to more weight gain, along with other health risks.
Another issue found is that the gluten-free diet tends to mean fewer necessary minerals. The research found that foods without the ingredient did not have the folic acid or iron levels that other foods had. This is worrying for experts, who want to encourage people to get their recommended daily allowances of these nutrients.
Calvo also expressed concern over the rice products that are found in the foods. These can contain arsenic, which was found in a batch tested in 2012. The levels of the poison were at “worrisome levels.”
Gluten is a protein that can be found in various ingredients, including barley, rye and wheat. About seven percent of individuals have some type of sensitivity to it, ranging from mild to severe. Calvo acknowledged that people with the sensitivity would need to skip on the protein, but not everyone does.
According to the research, it turns out that opting for a gluten-free diet could be posing risks to the health. This is not just due to the risk of in-taking high amounts of arsenic. There is the worry that people are not getting all the daily nutrients that they need to. While they can take supplements, many do not realize that the products are missing the nutrients compared to the gluten alternatives.
There is also the belief that gluten-free instantly means better for a person. However, people fail to think about the calories and sugars that are still in these products. As Calvo stated, a “cookie is still a cookie.” A gluten-free diet may not be as healthy as people have originally believed.
By Alexandria Ingham