We ask the experts to assess the health benefits of a gluten-free diet.
While some people have a medical need to black ban gluten (if they have coeliac disease or are medically diagnosed as gluten intolerant), for others, cutting out gluten seems to be a new way to try to lose weight. To go gluten-free you need to avoid barley, rye, oats and wheat and carefully check ingredients before buying processed foods.
What’s it doing to your body?
Not only does she think it’s unnecessary to eliminate gluten if you have no medical reason to, nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin says “there’s an equal amount of poor quality gluten-free products as there are good-quality products because it’s now such a marketing strategy.”
Besides, going gluten-free doesn’t mean you’ll lose weight.
“Most gluten-free foods are actually high GI,” she says. That means they cause a surge in sugar levels but don’t sustain you for long. “So if you’re trying to lose weight, a gluten-free diet may not always be the best thing for that,” says Dr Stephen Thornley, endocrinologist at Southern Endocrine in Sydney. Instead of eliminating gluten, you’re better off simply eating whole unprocessed carbohydrates, Bingley-Pullin says.
“If you’ve got a nutritious diet, going gluten-free is not necessarily a bad thing,” says Dr Thornley. Just remember, it might not be the best thing for weight loss and isn’t worth sticking to if you’re not getting anything out of it – unless, of course, you have a medical reason for doing it.
Author: Dr Evelyn Lewin