Dangers of gluten-free breads for healthy people

The interest and hype surrounding the gluten-free breads in recent years has been remarkable, even though relatively few people had ever heard of gluten before. Perhaps, it’s a little bit exaggerating, but it seems that a new health myth, a new diet fad, has been taking people by storm.

What is gluten?

Gluten (the term came from the Latin gluten meaning glue) is a group of proteins found only in a select few whole grains – wheat, rye, and barley; the rest are naturally gluten-free. These proteins give elasticity to dough helping it to rise and to keep its shape.

In our kitchen gluten is responsible for the ability of flour to form dough. Hence, gluten is an integral component of an incredible variety of wheat-containing foods, including breads, cereals, and pastas.

Generally, bread flours are high in gluten. More refining leads to chewier products such as pizza and bagels, while less refining yields tender baked goods such as pastry products.

Gluten is a nutrient, not potassium cyanide

Nothing toxic about gluten. Many people believe that gluten itself is unhealthy, but it’s not true. Furthermore, evidence suggests that a gluten-free diet puts your health at risk. Only those with celiac disease and other diagnosed gluten intolerances require gluten avoidance.

Gluten-free breads are dramatically different from regular breads

Regular bread is nutritionally completely different from gluten free bread. If you want to switch to gluten-free breads, before doing so, you have to read this recent scientific report: Laura Roman, Mayara Belorio, and Manuel Gomez (2019) “Gluten-Free Breads: The Gap Between Research and Commercial Reality” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Vol. 18, 2019, 690-702. This research expands the current knowledge on gluten-free breads manufacturing, giving a panoramic outlook on the current situation in the gluten-free bread market

A long list of ingredients was observed in commercial gluten free breads, with the presence of a wide range of additives, including acidifiers, emulsifiers, leavening agents, preservatives, and aromas or flavourings. A breakdown of ingredients showed that gluten free breads have seven groups of ingredients, all with various roles to play.

Dangers of gluten-free breads for non-celiac people

If you’re unconvinced and insist on adopting a gluten-free diet, consider the following facts to make an informed decision about modifying your diet.

A review of existing data shows that there are detrimental effects to going gluten free, including loss of the dietary fiber, deficiencies in dietary minerals and vitamins, and potential heavy metal exposure.

Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, contain important nutrients. Avoiding foods that contain gluten can lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients, including iron, calcium, fiber, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. In addition, many products that contain gluten are also fortified with vitamins. Moreover, many processed gluten-free products can be higher in fat, sugar, and calories than their gluten equivalents. This can lead to weight gain.

A study published in The British Medical Journal in 2019 concluded that a person who follows a gluten-free diet without having celiac disease has a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in the long term. This is because they will miss out on the heart-healthy benefits of whole grains.

Why are gluten-free diets so popular?

 The main reasons for a growing number of healthy people blindly following a gluten-free diet are:

  • Healthier choice: People think that a gluten-free diet is a healthier choice.
  • Intuition: it just seems like a good idea.
  • Belief: People believe that it may improve nonspecific gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Availability: Gluten-free products are now more widely available
  • Self-diagnosing: a large number of people are self-diagnosing themselves with gluten sensitivity. The logic is: if gluten is bad for people with celiac disease, maybe it’s bad for me.
  • Celebrity endorsement: If eliminating gluten is encouraged by someone I admire, maybe I should give it a try.
  • Testimonials: hearing about someone with bothersome symptoms that finally went away after eliminating gluten is difficult to ignore.
  • Commercial marketing trick: Big corporations selling gluten-free products or books about gluten-free diets can be convincing even if there’s little science to back it up.

Thinking about gluten-free diet? Think again!

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