The latest fad diet to impact market shelf products is the “gluten free” diet, based off of a diet recommended for those who suffer from celiac disease. Essentially, a large amount of carbs such as breads and other grains are cut from the diet to reduce abdominal discomfort.
While most follow this diet blindly without doing proper research on the side effects, there are some that have taken the time to dawn some light on what would be considered “faulty” scientific research.
In this article by Jennifer Welsh for Business Insider, the “need” for a gluten-free diet is debunked through placebos in scientific research. The scientists who hosted the study tested a pool of 37 self-proclaimed “gluten free” participants. The findings are listed below:
The subjects cycled through high-gluten, low-gluten, and no-gluten (placebo) diets, without knowing which diet plan they were on at any given time. In the end, all of the treatment diets – even the placebo diet – caused pain, bloating, nausea, and gas to a similar degree. It didn’t matter if the diet contained gluten (Welsh).
The study was a follow up on a 2011 experiment in that seemed to show evidence of gluten sensitivity in non-celiac people. This new study refutes those findings and shows gluten sensitivity for those without celiac disease may not actually exist.
What was drawn from these findings was that regardless of the amount of gluten presented, the reactions remained the same, leading these researchers to believe that there was a different factor in food other than gluten that led these “gluten sensitive” participants discomfort after certain meals. The placebos were put in place to reduce any mentally-induced side effects.
If the participants were aware of the level of gluten in their foods, there may be the factor that some would refuse to eat the meal(s), or exaggerate on their reactions to the provided meals. These findings should give ease to the gluten-free community, but at the same time should encourage those having these reactions to find out what is truly in their food and test all allergen aspects of their diet. Similar findings have been found across the board through scientific research.
In this article, compiled from a group of researchers from the Gastroenterology Unit at the General Hospital of Birmingham, a similar study hosted to 210 people similar to the study performed by Welsh proved for similar findings: gluten was not the culprit behind the discomfort that these “gluten-intolerant or sensitive” participants experienced.
This article dives a little deeper than the aforementioned article by Welsh. After discussing their similar findings, the Gastroenterology Unit looked into cancerous side effects of those who are gluten-intolerant continuing to eat gluten. While it may not be the cause of these short-term side effects such as bloating or discomfort, it may cause those with coeliac disease to have a “increased risk of developing malignancy, particularly lymphoma” (4) in the long term.
Other research has proved that the gluten-free diet is only effective in patients if they adhere to it for life as opposed to just hopping onto the latest diet bandwagon.
With these findings, the spike in the “gluten-free” food industry proves to not be as useful as it claims to be. With scientific data proving that the gluten found in yeast, barley, and grains does not have strong significance in discomfort and gastrointestinal bloating, all of these products are nothing more than a bandwagon marketing ploy on the most current fad diet. While cutting out unnecessary, processed carbs is a wise move in working toward a healthy lifestyle, cutting out carbs altogether now proves to have more health risks than benefits.
If you classify yourself as someone who is “gluten intolerant” or sensitive to it, in accordance to these articles and their findings, it may benefit you more to look deeper into the components of your diet and stop pinning gluten as the “bad guy” because that’s what “scientists” or marketing are telling you.