A small percentage of the world’s population suffer from Celiac Disease, also known as an allergy to gluten/autoimmune disorder. Some people may not realize they have this disease until later in life, and eliminating gluten completely from their diet may feel like an epiphany, and solve many issues. However it has become a common diet and trend amongst people who do not have Celiac disease to go “gluten free”. Since gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye, cutting it out of your diet almost seems like a guaranteed method to loosing weight. Is that really accurate though?
Even people with Celiac Disease that go on gluten free diets are not guaranteed to lose weight. In fact, a study conducted over 2 years on 371 people with Celiac disease showed that 82% of people that were already overweight, gained even more weight once going gluten free. Of course, if you have a gluten allergy, you have no choice but to cut it out completely, but this supports the claim that people without the disease should keep it in their diet.
A study was conducted, in which 139 peoples recorded a food diary of their gluten-free lives in order to analyze levels of nutrients that were ingested. It was found that levels of magnesium, zinc, and iron were lower than what is recommended. Energy intake was also lower.(Robins) There are potential problems with this experiment though, because the sample size is not too big and there could be errors in people’s self reports.
Gluten free diets may be suggested to people with gastrointestinal problems such as IBS or even Autism Spectrum disorders. However, there is a lack of evidence supporting the claim that going gluten free will help these problems. Our body benefits from stomach bacteria that gluten provides. Oligofructose is an important starch found in wheat that improves or metabolism of lipids and and absorption of minerals. When we cut gluten out of our diet completely, we are missing out on these benefits. (Gaesser)
One experimental study was done on a group of 10 subjects, in which they followed a gluten free diet for an entire month. At the end of the month, researchers took fecal samples and found that were lacking beneficial bacteria. (Gaesser)
In another double-blind, randomized experiment, women were given 48g of wheat for breakfast for a 3 week period. Fecal samples were collected before and after the experiment, and after the diet, it was evident that one bacteria called Bifidobacterium increased 10%. (Gaesser)
As it might seem like a desirable thing to cut out gluten from your diet, it is probably not a good idea if you do not suffer from Celiac disease. There is no evidence that can prove weight loss benefits, and you will miss out on healthy bacteria for your body. Gluten free diets are also hard to abide by, and a lot of bread substitution products still contain carbs and sugar, defeating the purpose of weight loss. It is not determined how detrimental these bacterias are to one’s life, however it is important to provide your body with nutrients in order to maintain health.