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Gluten-free diet could damage your health, specialist warns
Gluten-free diet could damage your health, specialist warns

Gluten-free diet could damage your health, specialist warns

Putting kids on gluten-free diets even if they don’t have celiac disease or a wheat allergy may carry more risks than benefits, experts warned.

A gluten-free diet usually rules out grains – wheat, barley, rye, bread, pasta – and is popular with some celebrities and athletes.

The people who usually need to be on a gluten-free diet are those who suffer from celiac disease. An estimated 1 percent of Americans have celiac disease, but the gluten-free industry has millions of customers who don’t need gluten-free products.

Dr. Norelle R. Reilly, a pediatric gastroenterologist, wrote a new report published in The Journal of Pediatrics:

There is no evidence that processed gluten free foods are healthier nor have there been proven health or nutritional benefits of a gluten free diet. There are no data to support the theory of intrinsically toxic properties of gluten in otherwise healthy adults and children.

Gluten free packaged foods frequently contain a greater density of fat and sugar than their gluten-containing counterparts.

Obesity, overweight and new-onset insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome have been identified after initiation of a gluten-free diet.

It also may lead to deficiencies in B vitamins, folate, and iron, given a lack of nutrient fortification of many gluten-free products.

Jennifer Willoughby, a pediatric dietician who was not involved in the report, told CBS News:

Especially in a young child, when we’re looking at removing basically an entire food group from the diet, if there aren’t enough appropriate substitutions in there, we run the risk of poor growth, malnutrition and missing out on a lot of their necessary vitamins and minerals. They lose out on a lot of B vitamins, a lot of iron, and fiber if the diet is not followed in a proper way.

“[Replacement foods for gluten-free diets] tend to be very processed, higher in fat and higher in sugar, and surprisingly to a lot of people they’re actually higher in carbohydrates,” Willoughby added.

Reilly said that being on a gluten-free diet, without seeing a doctor first, may mess up a real medical diagnosis for celiac disease.

She also noted that some people may think that a gluten-free diet can somehow prevent celiac disease, but there is no science to back up that belief.


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