Do You Really Need to Miss Out On Those Cookies this Holiday Season?

Gluten-free | Ogden, UT“Gluten-free” seems to be the “it” phrase of modern food culture. Everywhere you turn restaurants are touting being gluten-free. Entire aisles in the grocery now seem to have that distinction.

Question is — does everyone need to avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and many processed foods? That means you’ll have to wave away that yummy banana bread and those sugar cookies this holiday season.

A study published in the journal Digestion says maybe not so much. It found that 86 percent of individuals who believed they were gluten sensitive could handle it just fine. Whoa.

So, who does need to avoid gluten? Individuals with celiac disease, a hereditary autoimmune condition that affects about 3 million Americans must avoid gluten. This equates to roughly one in 100 Americans. Also, those with rare wheat allergies must go gluten-free. And, there are those with gluten sensitivity, around another 6 percent of the U.S. population that should avoid gluten.

And then there’s everyone else

So, why is everyone searching for “gluten-free” options? Could this be the latest “healthy” fad, akin to the movement to remove eggs from the diet a couple decades ago when later research found them to be virtually a super food? When you consider that 41 percent of U.S. adults believe “gluten-free” foods are beneficial for everyone, it does smell a bit fishy. Could it be the food conglomerates selling $15 billion plus yearly in “gluten-free” foods behind it? Hmm.

The problem with replacing flour in foods is the replacements. Much like fat-free foods turned out to make people fatter because their excessive carbohydrates make you hungrier, gluten-free foods can be really most junk. Lots of starchy carbs and sugar, low in fiber, high in calories, and sodium. Yuck.

Back to the study

The study from the University of L’Aquila in Italy, which obviously wondered about the possible harm of eating pasta, enrolled 392 patients who believed they had gluten sensitivity into a controlled clinical trial. All subjects ate gluten-containing foods for two months before their initial tests to determine if they had celiac disease or a wheat allergy. All of the patients then followed a gluten-free diet for six months.

The results? Of the 392 patients, 6.63 percent tested positive for celiac disease and two individuals (.51 percent) for wheat allergy. Some 27 patients (6.88 percent were found to suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity. All the others? They were fine eating all the gluten they wanted, without any negative health consequences. That means the study found that 86 percent of those who believed they were sensitive to gluten weren’t. And to think they were avoiding that great cannelloni down the street at the neighborhood Italian trattoria for nothing!

Bottom line. If you have celiac disease, you need to avoid gluten. If you’re sensitive to gluten, you should cut back. That leaves the vast majority of the rest of us, who can go on eating all the gluten-containing foods we want. But you should cut down on processed foods anyway, regardless of gluten or not!

Whew. Now you can have your fruitcake and eat it too this holiday season. OK, maybe not fruitcake…

If you have questions about potential celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, we can test you to find out for sure. Call us at Ogden Clinic GI at McKay, 801.475.3680, to make an appointment or with any questions you may have.

Posted in: Celiac Disease

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Ogden Clinic G.I. at McKay
4403 Harrison Blvd, #4650
Ogden UT 84403

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4403 Harrison Blvd, #4650 Ogden, UT, 84403 | 801.475.3680