The great gluten-free diet fad

seed-head-wheatI thought this BBC post by William Kremer presented a pretty balanced view about dietary gluten. Here’s a quick summary for people like me who knew nothing about this:

  • As a general rule, avoiding gluten is a bad idea because we get valuable vitamins and fibres from it that you would then have to supplement in some other way.
  • A little under 1% of people, however, suffer from coeliac disease which gives them serious gluten intolerance, and the increasing availability of gluten-free foods is very valuable for them.
  • There is a larger group of people who may have some gluten sensitivity, perhaps as high as 6%, and can benefit from reducing or avoiding it. This is hard to test for, and its existence is somewhat debated, but double-blinded trials with placebos suggest that it isn’t completely imaginary.
  • Nearly 30% of Americans, however, feel that they ought to try and avoid gluten in their diet. This is a recent trend.
  • If you replace gluten-containing foods – e.g. baked goods – with gluten-free alternatives, you will often be worse off because they tend to be more calorific. You can lose weight, however, by replacing them with fruit and vegetables.

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