Going gluten free when you don’t have Celiac Disease is bad for you – fact or myth?
Myth! I’ve heard a few different claims that attempt to explain why going gluten free outside of Celiac Disease is bad. Today, I’m dissecting these claims so that you can understand why you don’t need to worry if you’ve switched over to a gluten free diet without being diagnosed with Celiac Disease. If you’re curious to know about going gluten free outside of Celiac Disease, read this.
Myth #1: Going gluten free will give you a gluten deficiency
Thankfully, there is no such thing as a deficiency to a specific protein. When we eat protein, the body breaks it down into amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Our bodies use these amino acids to form new proteins. There are 22 amino acids. All animal proteins contain each of the 22 amino acids. Some plant-sourced foods do as well, but simple combinations can also provide the 22 amino acids (e.g. whole grains and legumes). All whole foods contain some protein. Removing gluten will not lead to a protein deficiency.
Myth #2: Because gluten free products are not enriched, deficiencies will be developed
Before I can bust that myth, we need to talk about the term “enriched”. Enriched foods are foods that have been so processed that they have lost their natural nutrients. To compensate, only some nutrients are added back, but not in their natural form. Our bodies best know how to recognize nutrients in their natural form, so enrichment is inferior to natural nutrients.
With that said, there is a healthy way to go gluten free and an unhealthy way to go gluten free. This is no different from a diet which contains gluten. Eating a diet of processed foods will result in deficiencies and health complications from the added sugar and unhealthy fats, regardless of whether it contains gluten.
Myth #3: Gluten free foods are refined
Correction: some gluten free foods are refined. But also, some gluten-containing foods are refined. It’s all about the foods you choose to eat, regardless of your stance on gluten. A well balanced gluten free diet doesn’t have to involve eating refined foods with a “gluten free” label on the package. It can be composed entirely of some or all of these: fruits, vegetables, gluten free whole grains, meat, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Myth #4: Whole grains, which are necessary for fibre, contain gluten
There are actually two myths to bust in this particular claim. The first one is that whole grains contain gluten. The truth is that only some grains contain gluten (wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, triticale, and any variation of these). There are also gluten free grains (rice, millet, teff, and sorghum, among others). The gluten free grains also contain fibre.
The second myth is that grains are necessary for fibre. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts all contain fibre as well. Some individuals do really well on a grain free diet.