I just read a post from one of my favorite bloggers about how her diet has changed and grown to include more protein, less gluten, and the effects that change has made on her. One of the comments mentioned something about wanting to see scientific evidence on how avoiding gluten is good for you, and this sparked a quick Google search: “scientific evidence of gluten free diet.” Unfortunately, the first page of results wasn’t very promising in the way of scientific, peer-reviewed, trusted articles or sites, but after glancing through the first few articles (health.harvard.edu, scientificamerican.com, and uwhealth.org), they all have one common theme – if you’re not celiac, you shouldn’t eat gluten-free. Why? Because you won’t get all the nutrients you get from the often “enriched” gluten products, such as calcium, iron, etc.
For those that follow a typical standard American diet, yes, cutting out wheat and replacing regular bread, pasta, and cereals with their gluten-free counterparts will affect the amount of those essential vitamins and nutrients often found in gluten products. And this is because those who follow the SAD most likely do not get these nutrients from the whole foods they are naturally found in – pasture-raised red meat, leafy green veggies, and pasture-raised dairy, among other things. Since when did we need enriched wheat to fulfill our dietary needs of vitamins and minerals? Most breads, pastas, and cereals we eat are extremely processed – so much so that any nutrients those products had are completely stripped and therefore, many are enriched with synthetic vitamins and minerals. What ever happened to eating REAL FOOD?
“But what about whole wheat bread?”
First of all, if you’re not already, you should be reading your labels! And I don’t mean a quick glance at the calorie and fat content (though those numbers don’t necessarily mean anything… more on that later!) – I mean read every single ingredient. Compare those with the fat content, sugar content, and the dietary claims plastered on the front. Claims such as all-natural, fat-free/low-fat, whole wheat and even organic don’t really mean anything. Yes, whole wheat can still mean that the grains were highly processed and thus the wheat was “enriched” with nutrients.
The bottom line is, we shouldn’t be eating foods that are enriched with anything. (This is also a big issue with dairy products – does “fortified with vitamin-D” ring a bell?) We should be eating a variety of foods in their most natural form, and if we do that, we should be getting all the nutrients we need. We don’t need special breads or cereals or milk to fulfill these needs if we eat a diet rich in whole foods.
If that means you can tolerate true whole wheat breads and pastas, then go ahead. This isn’t to say that eating grains of most kinds will not impact your health in other ways down the road, but that’s a topic for another day.
EAT REAL FOOD!