by Melissa Diane Smith
This is a slightly revised version of an article I wrote in 2012. It is based on a presentation I gave to the Southern Arizona Celiac Support group entitled “It’s Gluten Free, but Is It Healthy?” in January 2012. Many people still don’t know this information, so I think it’s important to run it again.
The gluten-free diet is one of the most talked-about and followed diets these days for good reason: It’s the nutritional answer for the growing number of people who realize they are gluten sensitive. It’s the best example we have of food as our best medicine. The vast majority of people who are gluten sensitive have experienced the amazing feeling of having longstanding bothersome or even debilitating symptoms dramatically improve or completely go away when they eliminate gluten from their diet.
However, for all the good eating gluten free can do for those of us who are gluten sensitive, it can do plenty of harm if we eat gluten free the wrong way. Unfortunately, many people are doing that without realizing it. It’s common for people to experience a big improvement in health when they first go gluten free, and gradually develop unwanted, unhealthy weight gain or new health problems, such as diabetic or prediabetic blood sugar levels, the longer that they eat gluten free. In one study, 82 percent of people who went on a gluten-free diet gained weight in the first two years of eating that way, including 81 percent of the people in the study who were originally overweight.