Nowadays, gluten intolerance is a fairly common problem. Symptoms that people with intolerance to gluten develop can range from severe nutrient deficiencies, anemia, bloating, diarrhea and constipation to headache, fatigue, and tiredness.
The most severe form of gluten intolerance is called celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that affects about 1% of the population, whereas up to 13% of people may also have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is a milder form of gluten intolerance that can still cause problems.
A gluten-free diet which excludes foods like wheat, rye, barley, and wheat-based processed bread, pasta and cereals is the most effective approach to keep the symptoms at check.
However, gluten-free diets are the latest craze even among people who are not intolerant to gluten but are hoping to lose weight. Is there a rationale behind it?
People who suffer from gluten intolerance reported unexplained gain weight. Due to the damaged lining of the small intestine, they fail to absorb the majority of the nutrients from any food resulting in certain nutrient deficiencies, and the consumed food continues to pass into the lower portion of the intestine, where present bacteria attempt to digest the food particles further and are producing gas. Excess gas in the intestines causes bloating and weight gain. Along with the bloating, many individuals experience constipation, which also contributes to weight gain. Moreover, this unexplained weight gain may be due to underlying intestinal inflammation of the upper small intestine that could result in stress hormone cortisol imbalance and consequently to alteration of appetite control hormone leptin.
It has been shown that once individuals with gluten intolerance have started following a strict gluten-free diet, many junk foods are eliminated from the menu and their body has the nutrients it needs, they feel symptoms relief and can lose weight.
This is most probably a reason why even people who have no gluten intolerance are adhering to a gluten-free diet. It often may cause you to eat more whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean meats. These diet changes are often healthier and lower in calories. In general, people eating gluten-free also tend to make healthier food choices because they are more aware of the need to read food labels.
Nevertheless, despite the health claims for gluten-free eating, no published experimental evidence supports weight-loss with a gluten-free diet or suggests that the general population that doesn’t suffer from gluten intolerance would benefit from avoiding gluten.
Bottom-line, a cookie is still a cookie, and a brownie is still a brownie; gluten-free or not, they aren’t the best choice!