Gluten-Free Foods: For Celiac Disease Only?

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Gluten has gotten a bad rap in recent years. As a consequence, low- and gluten-free diets have become popular, with people speculating that the consumption of wheat and other gluten-rich grains has negative effects on their health. But at this point, that’s all it is-speculation. In the absence of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, there is no evidence that avoiding gluten will benefit your health, and it may even cause harm.

For example, a study published in The BMJ in April 2017 investigated the impact of gluten consumption on coronary health. Researchers analyzed data on 64,714 women and 45,303 men without coronary heart disease and without celiac disease who completed food questionnaires every four years from 1986 to 2010. The participants were divided into five groups, ranking their gluten consumption from low to high.

Comparing coronary heart disease rates among these groups, the researchers found little difference between the highest and lowest gluten consumers. The authors cautioned against avoiding gluten among people who do not have celiac disease-noting that such avoidance leads many people to reduce their intake of whole grains altogether. Whole grains have been found to protect against coronary heart disease and the risk of dying from cardiovascular problems.