Last Updated on
What is the gluten-free diet?
The gluten-free diet is a recommended diet to be followed, throughout life, by people diagnosed with celiac disease.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine, making it more difficult to absorb nutrients from the food eaten. Small intestine deterioration is caused by a reaction to consumed gluten, a protein found in some grains, such as wheat and rye. Symptoms of celiac disease include: bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, joint pain, weight loss, and more. There are no medications or surgeries to treat celiac disease, so it is necessary to follow a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free diet and weight
The gluten-free diet has become famous among celebrities who have argued that this diet can help reduce weight and increase energy levels. Therefore, it seems that more and more people associate a gluten free diet with weight loss rather than celiac disease.
There is no scientific evidence to support the fact that eliminating gluten from your diet helps you lose weight. Many gluten-free products can have a similar, if not even higher, caloric intake compared to gluten-free products. Gluten-free products can often have added sugars or fats to replace gluten-containing flour and make the product more palatable, ultimately leading to higher caloric intake.
The reality behind the promises of gluten-free diets
Supporters of gluten-free diets argue that such a diet helps with weight loss and increase energy levels, but the reasons some people enjoy these benefits could be very different.
Some people claim that they have lost weight after starting a gluten-free diet. This may be possible, but it largely depends on the foods that have been chosen to replace gluten. For example, if we replace wheat flour with potato starch, we will not lose weight, but by replacing white bread with a product made from quinoa or other high-fiber cereals we could achieve a reduction in body weight.
Those who follow a gluten-free diet can reduce their intake of processed products and increase their intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Possible weight loss can be achieved by eliminating foods high in calories and fat, even if they are not gluten-free. After starting a gluten-free diet, most people pay close attention to nutrition labels. When they know what products to buy, most people make healthier choices, which can lead to weight loss.
People with celiac disease are, in many cases, weak, which may lead some to believe that this is due to a gluten-free diet. In fact, these people may have less weight due to the poor absorption that characterizes this condition.
Some people claim that they experienced a higher energy level after starting a gluten-free diet. One explanation for this could be that these people consume more fruits and vegetables and fewer high-fat products, with a higher energy intake. By following a healthy and balanced diet, many people may feel like they have more energy, whether or not they eliminate gluten from their diet. There are no studies showing that eliminating gluten from food leads to higher energy levels.
The risks of gluten-free diets
There are several risks that arise when adopting a gluten-free diet. Avoiding grains means consuming fewer nutrient-dense foods, which can lead to a deficiency in iodine, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.
Along with fruits and vegetables, the most important sources of fiber are whole grains and whole wheat bread, which contain gluten. Many people who follow this diet tend to consume less fiber, which can lead to constipation.
Following a gluten-free diet can reduce beneficial bacteria in the gut (Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus), which can negatively affect the immune system.
Therefore, if you do not have celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is not recommended.