Gluten-free diets are used by some for many reasons, including diagnosed celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and the belief that a gluten-free diet is a healthier choice, or can help with weight loss. Eating gluten-free is an increasing food trend, and some nutritionists feel eating gluten-free eating is a diet fad, better health and body composition would be achieved if everyone with an intolerance to gluten were to eliminate it.
One of the major contributors to one taking up a gluten-free lifestyle is celiacdisease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition affecting numerous systems in the body and it causes lasting damage to the intestinal tract. In the long-term, people with celiac disease will die if they don’t avoid gluten.
Gluten sensitivity is also an autoimmune condition, but it doesn’t cause lasting, irreversible damage to the digestive tract. There is a wide range of symptoms and varying degrees of sensitivity. Many disagree about rates of gluten sensitivity because it is possible to have better health on a gluten-free diet, but not have a positive blood test for gluten sensitivity. This is because gluten sensitivity is on a spectrum and it is possible to have serious intestinal inflammation from eating gluten, yet not produce antibodies that will show up on the standard test.
Some nutritionists and doctors consider eliminating gluten to be unhealthy unless necessary because they feel it will lead to a lack of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients in the diet. From a nutritional standpoint, there is nothing that is in foods containing gluten that can’t be found easily from gluten-free sources. There are much better sources of protein, fiber, vitamin-B, and iron than wheat, and gluten-containing foods.
To achieve and maintain optimal health and body composition, it is ideal that we eliminate processed, fast-digesting high-carb foods, and replace them with high-quality protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other whole foods. By eating this way, we will avoid nutrient deficiencies whether we choose to eliminate gluten or not.