The Harmful Effects of Gluten-Free

A story came out today on stating that going “that cutting out gluten unless you have to may actually be a bad idea for your health.”

There are other great lines in the story such as:

  • Cutting out gluten unless medically necessary can potentially increase a person’s risk of heart problems
  • The researchers saw no “significant” association between gluten intake and heart-disease risk, but they did note that people who restricted gluten in their diets also “significantly limit their intake of whole grains, which may actually be associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes.
  • going gluten-free means a person reduces their intake of whole grains, which are known to have cardiovascular-health benefits.

I had to read it a few times to truly understand the gist of the article.  I then had to convince myself that the article and the study the article is based on are two different pieces of literature.  The reason I bring this up is because most people will A.) Read just the article title or B.) Just skim the article quickly.  If you only were to get the information in those ways, you are missing the bigger picture and thus, the truth.

Here’s the dish on gluten.  It is a protein that helps bind foods together.  It is NOT the devil or some health busting nuke.  Gluten has become the focus of many when they look to improve their health.  It’s a decision that makes sense.  Gluten has been shown to aggravate and disrupt certain individual’s health and body.  No, gluten does not affect everyone the same.  Every single individual has an incredibly complex internal system that reacts differently to every single thing.  Blanket statements and generalizations don’t work when it comes health and fitness.

Gluten free has a spectrum. To be honest, the concept of gluten free is good, however there is a major chasm between what gluten free is and what gluten free marketing says.  A good rule of thumb is that if a food uses and/or requires heavy marketing, it probably isn’t great.  Foods that are marketed as gluten free aren’t typically any better for you than their glutenous counterpart:

  • Gluten free donuts are still donuts
  • Gluten free beer is still beer
  • Gluten free pasta is still pasta

The heavily processed gluten free version of the heavily processed glutenous food is still not a great option.  If it gives you peace of mind, go for it, just don’t try to convince me or anybody else that it’s a healthy food.

Good news.  There are great gluten free foods out there: vegetables, rice, meat, fruit, dairy, fish and seafood to name a few.  Just because you cut out gluten doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthy and do well by your body.

Nobody seeks out a gluten problem. I feel like I should have an asterisk at the end of that statement.  I’d be willing to bet that someone out there is.  I digress.

I throw this one in here because there are those that don’t have celiac disease but still don’t tolerate gluten well.  The Yahoo article would suggest that they should tough it out and keep gluten in their diet to ward off potential cardiovascular disease by eating the foods that the govt. claims improves heart health even though it makes them feel bad.

My subtle passive aggressive point leads me to this: Simply pay attention to what makes you feel good and what makes you feel bad.  Once you pay attention and become aware, you can then filter out the BS information that gets thrown out there by the myriad of media outlets trying to get you to click on their articles (which worked because I clicked it).

Putting the bow on it. Be aware.  If you want to know if gluten affects you, try cutting it out for 2-4 weeks.  Once that time passes, reintroduce it and see how you feel.  You are an experiment of 1.  It’s important to note that food is not inherently good or bad.  It becomes such when we label it.

Looking at the article, the only harmful effect of gluten free is being naive and blindly doing something because of a polarizing buzz word.


Would love your thoughts on the article!



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