Myths about gluten have been circulating more and more over the last several years. Indeed, as awareness of celiac and the popularity of gluten free foods have increased, myths have been multiplying. The potential to make money off this awareness only increases the potential for misinformation to crop up. In this post, I break down the 3 myths about gluten that I hear most often.
Myth 1: Gluten sensitivity and celiac are the same
Gluten sensitivity is characterized by discomfort, such as gas and bloating, following the consumption of gluten. Generally, the symptoms are not as severe or lasting as those of celiac. Furthermore, gluten sensitivity is not a gluten allergy because with a sensitivity gluten does not trigger an immune system response. There is no reliable test for gluten sensitivity.
With celiac disease, an autoimmune response to gluten causes inflammation and severe gastric symptoms. Over time, repeat exposure to gluten in someone with celiac will cause intestinal damage and related issues. To treat gluten sensitivity and celiac disease as the same trivializes the severity of celiac as even trace amounts of gluten can cause devastating symptoms in someone with celiac.
Myth 2: Gluten free foods are healthier
As awareness of issues around gluten rose, loads of gluten free fad diets and “detox” programs emerged and production of gluten free products skyrocketed. And with all of that came this idea that gluten free foods are healthier for you than foods with gluten.
The fact is that, unless you have gluten sensitivity, allergy, or celiac, there really isn’t any benefit to be gained from choosing gluten-free versions of food products. And if you’re seeking weight loss by eating gluten free foods, there really isn’t much calorie difference.
Myth 3: Gluten is unhealthy and we should all avoid it
This myth rests at the crux of the gluten-free detox fads and there is no evidence backing it up. Consuming gluten is detrimental if you have sensitivity, allergy, or celiac. However, for someone without these conditions, consuming gluten causes no harm.
If you suspect you are reacting to gluten in some way, please consult with your doctor for testing and diagnosis.