Did you know that most of the information out there about gluten is not backed by science? Most of the studies available have been conducted on people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes serious symptoms when sufferers eat gluten.
Celiac disease only affects about one percent of the US population, but it’s worth noting that some people are sensitive to gluten even though they don’t have celiac disease. People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity should eliminate gluten from their diets.
If you–like most of the population–are not allergic to gluten, here are some common myths you should know about before you cut gluten out of your diet.
1. Avoiding gluten improves thyroid function.
I came across this myth when I was writing about habits that are bad for your thyroid. Many articles claim that eating less gluten can improve your thyroid function, but there is no research to confirm these claims.
Researchers agree that celiac disease increases the risk of thyroid disorder. However, going on a gluten-free diet does not seem to improve thyroid function for people who do not have celiac disease.
2. You will be more energetic when you go gluten-free.
Do you blame gluten for your fatigue and low energy? You should probably look elsewhere for the culprit, since there is no evidence that eating gluten lowers energy levels.
Proponents of this myth say that gluten causes sluggishness, because the body uses more energy to digest it. Remember that healthy fats and animal protein are also hard to digest.
3. Gluten increases the risk of cancer.
Cutting gluten from your diet won’t help lower the risk of cancer unless you have celiac disease. Research shows that avoiding gluten can promote intestinal healing and lower cancer risk in people with celiac disease.
The American Institute of Cancer Research says that avoiding gluten doesn’t lower risk of cancer in people who don’t have celiac disease. In fact, they encourage eating gluten-rich foods such as whole grains since they contain fiber and antioxidants that help fight cancer.
4. Going gluten-free will help you lose weight.
It is possible that you will lose a few pounds when you eliminate gluten from your diet, but this’s only because you will eliminate many foods from your diet. Your weight loss will be the result of a restrictive diet, not cutting out gluten.
This study clearly states, “There is no scientific evidence supporting the alleged benefit that a gluten-free diet will promote weight loss.” In fact, a review by Harvard Health says that going on a gluten-free diet may actually cause weight gain and increase the risk of heart disease in people without celiac disease.
5. Gluten-free foods are healthier.
A new study agrees that gluten-free foods are more expensive, but they are not healthier than foods that contain gluten. Gluten-free foods only improve health in people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
6. You can self-diagnose gluten intolerance.
Did you diagnose your gluten intolerance by taking a short quiz online? You need to be tested by a doctor. Gluten intolerance shares symptoms with many other conditions.
Go for a test even if you don’t have symptoms of gluten intolerance. Some people with celiac disease have a less severe reaction to gluten.
7. Avoiding gluten will improve your digestion.
There is no evidence that avoiding gluten improves digestive health in people without celiac disease.
Now that you know these gluten myths, will you eliminate it from your diet or continue eating it?