Gluten-free diet is the current fad. It all of a sudden became the bad boy of food- as if it were trans-fat or pink slime.

Poor Gluten!

Unlike the other bad stuff in foods, gluten is a natural protein found in grains like wheat and barley. No genetic modification or hydrogenation involved. There is nothing synthetic about gluten.

Gluten is a good source of digestible fiber and harmless EXCEPT in people with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.I can assure you that there are not a lot of people with the condition. Certainly not enough for the ballooning industry of gluten-free products.

What does the Doc Say?

I wish I could tell you with a straight face that avoiding gluten will help you lose weight or stay slim. Cutting back on carbs will, gluten is simply an innocent bystander.

If you do not have Celiac disease and you do not get sick when you eat any product made from wheat or barley, eat them to your heart’s delight –I meant eat in moderation. You derive no benefit from depriving yourself of a useful component of food.

Besides, why pay more for the less than savory gluten-free products if you don’t have to?

Do you have any opinion about gluten or going gluten-free? Would love to hear your thoughts.

About the author

Dr. Bola

Dr. Bola

Family physician. Works for the "man" by day, wife & mom 24/7.
Loves the work of translating "medicalese" to plain english.

31 Comments

  • I don’t have any food allergies but started seeing a lot of gluten free products in stores now. I just went to a Gluten Free Expo last weekend and the foods I tried out were really good but the cost is way too much.

    • The newer gluten free products are starting to taste better than their predecessors. There is no real reason to avoid gluten if you are not allergic to them. They are a good source of fiber.

    • Don’t want to disappoint you Paula but going gluten-free might make you feel better if you have celiac disease but it would not make you look younger.

  • I don’t really have food allergies, but my son does, and we have had to move him to gluten free. It is more expensive but we’ve enjoyed exploring new ways to make our favorite things.

    • Gluten-free is the flavor of the month in terms of diet.
      Can’t wait to see what new fad folks latch on next.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Emily.

  • I love me my gluten! I feel bad for those who can’t have it but thankfully there are more and more alternatives without gluten.

    • Enjoy your gluten Jen. I can’t imagine folks with Celiac disease missing something that makes them violently sick.

      The rest of us will keep enjoying the nutritional benefits of gluten.

  • It’s one of those fads that has gotten totally out of hand. I purchased a can of tropical fruit, guess what was on the label? Yep, Gluten Free. Unfortunately it’s going to get worse.

  • Dr. Bola,
    Thank you for writing this. I have been intrigued by the all of the buzz of late, and have a friend who went gluten free for two years following a trip and parasite problem that came home with her that helped her clear it up. She no longer needs to follow that diet. It is all so confusing. Your post helped me understand a bit more about it!

    • Heather I have to applaud your vigor for the subject but no where in the article did I say gluten sensitivity was a myth. Take a walk then read it again. I have to admit that math was not my strong suit in college but I know enough to know that 12% or even 30% is not majority in any population assuming the statistic you quoted was even true.

  • I notice that when I eat wheat products
    That my belly bloats up. So then I wondered, stop eating wheat altogether or try gluten free products.
    Without wheat I do not bloat, I so that’s the answer for that part. I find I can eat gluten baked goods and cereals without bloating. So is that an allergic reaction to wheat or a gluten intolerance. In media reports etc.all these words and phrases are used but they aren’t really explained to well.
    Thank you for the article.

    • You are so right about the confusing terminologies Karen. There is no dispute with Celiac disease. Those folks do not tolerate gluten period. Then there is a myriad of terminologies; gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance etc. Studies are coming out now pointing to a sensitivity to a carbohydrate in wheat called Frutan rather than gluten- which is a protein. This article explains it well in lay terms.

  • The tone of your post is a bit offensive, particularly coming from a Dr. There are MANY people, like myself, who suffer with pain, diarrhea and cramping if we eat gluten or even if a food is in the same pan as something with gluten. To say not many people have celiac or gluten sensitivity is not only incorrect it belittles our every day struggles.

    • “MANY” would mean 20% or more of the population. Can you say 20% of the population has Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity? I don’t think so.

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