Celiac disease is a condition that prevents a person’s body from being able to process anything that contains gluten (wheat, barley, rye, etc.). Because of this, individuals with this condition will often begin eating a gluten-free diet. Lately, this diet has become something of a “fad” in today’s culture, resulting in people cutting out gluten when they don’t really need to. What many of these people don’t realize is that this can actually pose several risks to their health and other areas of life.
Gluten-containing whole grains are actually a very important source of vitamins and other nutrients. Fortified bread and cereals are especially high in B vitamins. Other nutrients such as magnesium, fiber, and iron are also found abundantly in these whole grains. While gluten-free alternatives made with tapioca, white rice, or gluten-free flour are becoming more popular, these alternatives do not contain the same nutrients.
You May Become Sensitive to Gluten
If a person eliminates gluten from their diet without needing to, they may actually cause themself to become gluten-sensitive. If this is not a dietary change that is necessary for them, there is no reason to force it upon themself, causing them to need to ask questions such as, “I wonder, are cheerios gluten free?” every time they sit down to eat. It is important to ask a doctor for advice before seeking out such a drastic diet. A gluten-free diet can cost a person a lot of extra time and effort if it is an unnecessary change.
Another reason that it is essential to talk to a doctor before cutting out gluten is that this dietary change can actually make it difficult to give a clear diagnosis. After the body has not had gluten for some time, it is difficult for a biopsy to show whether a person has celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or is unaffected by gluten altogether. A doctor may want a person to continue eating gluten for some time, or return to eating gluten if they have already eliminated it from their diet, before they will order a biopsy.
Gluten-free products have a tendency to be more expensive than the alternatives. Because gluten-free diets are in trend, companies have increased their cost, knowing their products will be bought regardless. This unfortunately does have quite an impact on the community of people who do need a gluten-free diet but can’t necessarily afford it. These costs can really add up over time, and when a person’s diet does not require the avoidance of gluten, it just doesn’t make sense to have this unnecessary expense.
It has been shown that individuals who have a lower intake of gluten in their regular diet have a greater risk of type two diabetes. Individuals who adhere to this diet should be cautious of their A1C levels and be sure that their doctor is aware of their dietary changes. This is an important possible risk to weigh against the benefits of a gluten-free diet, especially if one does not have celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Many studies have linked gluten-free diets with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Individuals who have a higher intake of whole grains tend to have a smaller likelihood of developing heart disease compared to those who have a lower intake. Because a gluten-free diet limits a person’s intake of whole grains, this can increase their risk of heart disease. A person who does not have celiac disease or gluten intolerance must consider this great risk when considering a gluten-free diet.
Ultimately, a gluten-free diet is only truly needed in those with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, gluten ataxia, or a wheat allergy. Even then, a person may only require limitations rather than a full gluten elimination. Gluten and gluten-containing grains offer a lot of health benefits, and cutting them out can pose a lot of risks, as well as cost a pretty penny. Before taking the step of eliminating gluten, it is important for a person to talk to their doctor so that they can make the best choice for their overall health.