Gastroenterology & GI Surgery

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Jan 28, 2019

A Growing Trend in Gluten-Free Diets

By Kanaaz Pereira, Connect Moderator, @kanaazpereira

For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), following a gluten-free (GF) diet is crucial. These days however, a gluten-free lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular among those who've not been diagnosed with celiac disease. Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, Dr. Joseph Murray, M.D., and Jacalyn See, clinical dietitian, discuss the gluten-free trend that is becoming increasingly popular.

People who don’t have celiac disease seem to avoid gluten for a variety of reasons – a GF diet has been touted by some as a weight loss diet, the perception that it may be healthier, and some athletes believe it improves  their performance. But, as Jacalyn See explains, it’s the indirect benefits of avoiding gluten are what people may be experiencing. For example, "To lose weight you give up gluten-rich foods like cookies, bread, pasta, so of course you lose some weight! But there is nothing in gluten that will cause weight loss. In fact, gluten-free versions of these foods have more calories, since there is added fat and sugar to make them palatable."

Some other drawbacks of following a GF diet:

  • Gluten-free processed products like breads, cereals are lower in fiber and iron.
  • Going gluten-free can increase the risk for nutritional deficiencies, especially in vitamins and minerals. Fortified breads and cereals are a major source of vitamin B, and gluten-free flours are generally not fortified with vitamins.
  • Gluten-free products tend to be more expensive.
  • Going on a GF diet before being tested for celiac disease can result in a false negative on the blood test.

A GF diet is not the answer for everything, and the conversation continues to evolve. Dr. Murray encourages people to consult with their doctor before going on a GF diet; if you have symptoms or suspect celiac disease, it is important to get tested for celiac first.

Meet other people talking about celiac disease and gluten-free diet on Mayo Clinic Connect – join the conversation, share experiences, ask questions, and discover your support network. Here are some discussions you might like to follow...

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