Is Gluten Making You Sick or Fat?

Even though about 1 percent of the U.S. population has a legitimate reason to avoid gluten in their diet, a significant majority of people believe gluten is making them sick or fat. But is it really? Following a gluten-free diet when you don't really need to means you are actually depriving yourself of important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. What's more, you may actually be causing an increase in your weight instead of a decrease.

 

The Gluten-Free Craze

About one-quarter of consumers currently buy and eat gluten-free foods. The majority of these people do not have gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease, where consumption of gluten causes damage to the digestive tract. Instead, most consumers buy gluten-free foods in the belief that such foods are healthier and will help with weight loss.
 
Gluten-free items are generally two to three times more expensive than comparable products containing gluten. So is there any evidence that these foods are beneficial for people who do not have gluten intolerance?
 

What Is Gluten?

Glutens are proteins found in the seeds of wheat, rye, and barley. In wheat flour, glutens constitute around 80 percent of the total protein content. Wheat glutens also cause bread to retain its shape as it rises and give it its unique texture.
 
For most people, glutens are harmless and are digested like other food proteins. For the 1 percent of the population that is gluten intolerant, however, eating gluten can result in symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal (stomach) pain and bloating, and weight loss. The only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong elimination of gluten from the diet.
 
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