Eliminating gluten is one of the latest and most popular health trends and is incorporated in many other diets, such as the renowned Whole30. "Gluten-free" is a massive industry, amassing over $10 billon and is only growing. Celebrities like Victoria Beckham, Lady Gaga, and Kourtney Kardashian, credit their gluten-free diets for their weight loss and increased energy, but doctors and health officials beg to differ. Don't go gluten-free unless you have to, and read more to learn why. 

What Is Celiac Disease?

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Julia Gilman

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, causes an immune response that harms the lining of the small intestine. Destruction of the lining hinders the absorption of nutrients, which leads to osteoporosis, nerve damage, anemia, vitamin deficiencies, and other health conditions. 

According to Dr. Peter Green, a gastroenterologist and the director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, a gluten-free diet negatively effects the microbiota in the GI tract, which increases the risk of disease. Also, a gluten-free diet is not the answer to weight loss – gluten-free alternatives are filled with fats and sugars and eliminating grains may lead to a nutrient deficiency.  

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Jocelyn Hsu

For people with celiac disease, which makes up 1% of the American population, a gluten-free diet is absolutely necessary. However, 21% of Americans avoid the protein just for the surmised health benefits. Restricting gluten from the diet for the purpose of losing weight or because of some societal notion that gluten is bad for you is actually not recommended.

Whole Grains Have Many Health Benefits

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Alex Frank

Cutting gluten out of the diet means limiting the intake of whole grains, which are known to support cardiovascular health. Whole grains contain 31 antioxidants, which protect the body from the negative effects of oxidation, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular sides, and cancers. Whole grains also digest slowly and suppress appetite, which aids in weight control. The dietary fiber in whole grains is a prebiotic, which is essential for healthy gut flora.

A gluten-free diet can also cause a deficiency in vital nutrients such as iron, zinc, folate, riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus, and B12, which are components of wheat, barley, rye, and fortified grains.

Gluten-Free Alternatives Aren't Healthy

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Dyan Khor

Replacing breads, pastries, and other gluten-laden foods with the nutrition-labeled "gluten-free" version does improve the diet; many gluten-free foods are highly refined and prepared with loads of artificial sugars, preservatives, and dyes.

The sugars and oils in gluten-free foods increase inflammation by blocking the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids .Gluten is what creates the texture and shape of breads, acting as a glue, so gluten in gluten-free foods is replaced with fats to hold the foods together.

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Aakanksha Joshi

Going gluten-free for a period of time can actually create a gluten sensitivity, which makes it difficult to begin eating the protein again. In many cases, going gluten-free can cause more health problems than were aimed to fix.

For several reasons, it is recommended not to go gluten-free unless you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. And come on, do you really want to stop eating your favorite breads? Pastries? Pizza? I didn't think so.