If you’ve been in a grocery store in the last five years you’re hip to the fact that gluten-free has taken over the world. Gluten-free diets are now the most popular trend, driven mostly by people who are trying to lose weight. Forty-four million people have sworn off grains, and there are aisles of products catering to those who want to remove the dangers of gluten from their diets.
Are those dangers real?
For some, yes, says Kristi King, a senior pediatric dietician at Texas Children’s Hospital and clinical instructor at Baylor College of Medicine. “We know that 1% of the population has celiac disease. That’s an auto-immune disease in which they are allergic to the protein that’s found in wheat and wheat products,” she says. But for the overwhelming majority, there may be not only not be a benefit, there could be risk. King says by taking out the grains from your diet you could also be robbing yourself of key nutrients, including iron, folic acid and fiber. The problem, she says, it that some people are gluten-intolerant, but says there is no test for it so there is no way of knowing if you have the affliction. Or how severe. “Gluten is usually found in a certain type of carbohydrate that can cause excess bloating, gas, discomfort and cramping in a percentage of the population,” King tells KTRH News.
Several health care practitioners warn that putting yourself on a gluten free diet to address stomach issues could prevent a doctor from accurately diagnosing a more serious ailment.