2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Norelle Reilly, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, has prepared a report on the futility and potential harm of popular gluten-free diets for healthy people. The publication in The Journal of Pediatrics was supported by other doctors in an interview with CBS News.
Avoiding gluten (gluten) - a group of proteins from wheat, rye and some other grains - is the only way to treat celiac disease. In this autoimmune disease, the use of gluten causes severe damage to the intestinal mucosa. In addition, gluten is contraindicated for allergies and non-celiac intolerances. For healthy people, it serves as food.
Between 1 in 100 and 1 in 300 people suffer from celiac disease, the report says, with many more people trying to follow a gluten-free diet. A survey of 30,000 adults in 60 countries showed that 21 percent of them try to choose gluten-free foods for themselves and their children, and this figure is higher among people with low incomes. In another survey of 1,500 Americans, it was found that 35 percent of those surveyed limit themselves to gluten "for no reason." The next most popular responses were "healthy choices" and "gastrointestinal health." Gluten intolerance was mentioned by only eight percent of respondents.
The growing popularity of gluten-free diets is evidenced by the sales of gluten-free products, the US market for which increased 136 percent from 2013 to 2015 to reach $ 11.6 billion. The incidence of celiac disease and other types of gluten intolerance is increasing at a much slower rate.
The author of the report and her colleagues emphasize that while gluten-free diets are perceived as “healthier,” they can actually harm healthy people. Typically, these foods contain more fat and sugar, but less fiber, which increases the risk of constipation, obesity, and metabolic disorders. Also, gluten-free foods can lead to a deficiency of B vitamins, folic acid and iron, and many of them, due to the peculiarities of the production technology, contain an increased amount of arsenic and mercury. Moreover, their consumption can make it difficult to diagnose real cases of celiac disease.
In addition to the listed dietary features, expensive gluten-free foods can be purchased at the expense of healthy food, especially by poor families. The very adherence to a rigid diet that excludes many common foods is associated with inconveniences and can lead to impaired socialization. All of the above negatively affects the quality of life, without bringing any benefit.
Because of this, Reilly has recommended avoiding gluten-free diets unless recommended by a professional dietitian. She also suggested introducing counseling for people who decide to switch to a similar diet without a medical indication.