A new study has concluded that long-term gluten intake has no links to heart disease risks in people who do not suffer from celiac disease. On the contrary, it found that restricting whole grain consumption to stay low on gluten in non-celiac patients may actually increase the likelihood of heart conditions.
But what really happens when you give up gluten? Here’s a quick investigation on quitting gluten, a type of protein in rye, wheat, and barley, and has been pinpointed for triggering inflammation and intestinal damage among individuals with celiac disease.
What Happens To The Body In The Absence of Gluten
Dr. Alessio Fasano, author of “Gluten Freedom” and founder of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, do not see the gluten-free industry — currently a $1 billion industry — slowing down anytime soon.
“Unlike other fad diets, there are people who actually need to consume gluten-free foods for medical reasons, so they’ll always be available,” Fasano told Prevention.
Here are some things one can expect to happen after going gluten-free:
Your fiber intake can dramatically drop. Over 90 percent of Americans do not meet recommended fiber requirements, which are 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. This can further decrease with gluten-free foods, and the gut can suffer as a result. Fasano explained that fiber feeds the microbiome, so when there’s not enough of it for intestinal bacteria to feed on, one may be susceptible to developing gut inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, and related conditions.
You won’t readily lose weight. Gluten-free does not necessarily mean calorie-free, and many of these foods actually contain more calories, fat, sugar, and sodium than their gluten counterparts. If you’re keen on giving up gluten, add more vegetables, fruits, and lean meats to your diet.
You may want to stay in bed more. A gluten-free fare can also eliminate other nutrients that come with those foods, including fiber, iron, zinc, folic acid, and vitamin D. A diet expert should supervise you to make sure you are not missing out on these nutrients, as deficiency could lead to weakness and fatigue, hair loss, changes in mood, and constipation.
You may be at a greater risk for cancer. Many people go gluten-free to go Paleo, a popular diet that mimics the “caveman” style or the way our ancestors ate. This promotes increased meat intake, which will pump more protein into your body and boost your cancer risk.
You could feel happier. There are people who don’t test positive for celiac but are afflicted with nonceliac gluten sensitivity, who get GI distress, depression, and brain fog when they consume gluten. A study saw NCGS patients experience greater depressive symptoms when on a gluten-filled diet.
There are quite a number of people on gluten-free diets yet do not have a medically needed dietary restriction. In short, they may be eating gluten-free as a fad diet and with the belief that it’s lower in calories and fat, for instance.
Watch out in case you’re one of them, advised nutritionist Jessica Fishman Levinson.
“Personally I do not believe there is a benefit to eating gluten-free if you don't have gluten intolerance," Levinson said in a Live Science report, explaining that gluten-free food is not always healthier.
But those who are truly gluten-sensitive or allergic should take extra careful steps around their diet, staying alert for cross-contamination and when eating out at restaurants and even when presented with gluten-free choices on the menu.