On Nutrition: Should you go gluten free?

Happy Monday! And happy Celiac Awareness Month! In case you haven’t noticed, the gluten-free trend is quite…trendy. I think that’s unfortunate for two reasons:

  1. Gluten-free foods have a health halo (i.e., if the label says “gluten-free” many people think that automatically means the food is healthy) that is absolutely not warranted. Gluten-free foods can be just as processed and unhealthy as gluten-containing processed foods!
  2. There’s nothing trendy about living gluten free for people who truly have health problems caused by gluten. This is a serious issue, not the fad diet du jour.
One of my goals in life is to set the record straight on gluten and gluten-related disorders, so that people who really need to avoid gluten get properly diagnosed and learn how to navigate the ins and outs of living a gluten-free life, but also so people who don’t have issues with gluten aren’t restricting their diets in a way that may not be healthy. 
My column in yesterday’s Seattle Times, “Gluten free doesn’t always mean healthy,” goes into more detail. Because I couldn’t go into total detail in those 500+ words, I’ll be adding additional content on the blog this week.
  • Tomorrow, I’ll provide some useful visuals that help explain the differences between wheat allergy, celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
  • On Wednesday, I’ll talk about gluten-related disorders vs. irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). All of these health conditions have some overlapping symptoms, but some of the conditions are more serious than others. That’s why it’s important to seek out a proper diagnosis rather than simply self-diagnosing.
  • On Thursday, I’ll give an overview on testing for celiac disease and talk about how there is no test for non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
  • On Friday, I’ll include what I feel are the best, most reliable links for information on gluten-related disorders, IBS and IBD (I’ll probably include a few of those links earlier in the week, too).
Even if you think this information doesn’t apply to you, it’s good to make yourself aware…there are a lot of people walking around out there with one of these health issues and they don’t know what they have. Don’t let that happen to you.