Have you ever been confused by a nutrition article you’ve read online?
If so, you’re not alone.
Most of my clients feel frustrated and overwhelmed by all of the conflicting information about what to eat and what not to eat.
Dairy, gluten, agave nectar, legumes, coffee, rice, and wine – are they in, or are they out?
It seems as though the answers change almost daily.
Seriously, when did eating become so complicated?
Case in point, this article. Going gluten-free to ward off heart disease might have opposite effect: study.
It cautions people without celiac disease against going gluten-free to ward off heart disease as it may actually promote heart disease.
Confusing, right? And scary.
How is the health-conscious layperson supposed to make sense of this headline?
They are likely thinking, “Did I just spend my time and money going gluten-free only to be rewarded with heart disease? Awesome!”
Let’s look at it objectively.
We know that people suffering with celiac disease must eliminate gluten from their diets.
We also know that many people without celiac disease report feeling better on a gluten-free diet. This is why we’ve seen a recent explosion of gluten-free products lining grocery store shelves.
But can we really make a blanket statement about whether going gluten-free is healthy or not?
I don’t believe we can … unless we understand what is being eaten instead of the gluten-containing foods.
Sadly, it’s assumed that people who remove gluten from their diets will simply shop the gluten-free aisles of their grocery store instead.
Is this the only option?
I think there are very health-promoting ways to eat “gluten-free.” Think vegetables, avocados, coconut products, olives, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, quinoa, nuts, seeds, fruit, and dark chocolate. Just to name a few.
I also think there are very health-compromising ways to eat “gluten-free.” Think gluten-free flours, pastas, crackers, pancakes, muffins, and cookies.
This distinction needs to be at the centre of any meaningful discussion about the pros and cons of eating gluten-free. (Or vegetarian, for that matter!)
Sadly, confusing headlines about going gluten-free are often based on studies that simply replace gluten-containing foods with heavily processed gluten-free products – ones that are even higher in carbohydrates and lower in vitamins, minerals and fiber than the gluten-containing product. For this reason, they can promote fat storage, inflammation, and heart disease, which I’ve written about here.
I’d love to see the study findings of ditching gluten for a whole foods diet.
My guess is that the headlines would report a dramatic drop in heart disease, diabetes, digestive distress, inflammatory markers, and waistlines. But it wouldn’t generate the hype and attention it deserves.
Why not conduct an n=1 experiment and let me know your results in the comments below?