This disguised gluten danger does the most damage

Periodically, I browse the Internet, looking for the latest news about gluten. And this week I discovered one of the worst dangers to your health that is presented by gluten: Believing the nonsense spouted by some dietitians in defense of eating gluten and the grains that contain it.

Consider this article entitled “The Dangers of Going Gluten-Free.”

The author of that piece, a registered dietitian, argues that giving up gluten deprives you of important nutrients that can protect you from cancer and heart disease. Her point is that eating whole grains offers up vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber that improve your health.

The problem with her argument starts with the fact that her concept of giving up gluten argues that a normal gluten-free diet consists of replacing gluten-filled foods with refined, processed foods that are gluten-free.

And this is a mistaken concept that you see repeated again and again on the Internet.

There’s a right way and wrong way to eat when you give up gluten. And anyone who eats as the author wrongly believes all people going gluten-free do — which is to merely give up gluten and then consume cookies, cakes and breakfast cereals that are sugar-sweetened, gluten-free replicas of wheat-containing foods — is not doing anything positive for their health.

That’s because you end up eating nothing but processed foods. Processed foods are an ill all their own. So in an effort to give up something bad for you (gluten), you double up on something just as bad or worse.

Because when you eat processed, packaged foods labeled as gluten-free, you may be forgoing the gluten, but you’re taking on mountains of sugar — most likely as high fructose corn syrup — additives, preservatives, and other food-makings that have had any nutritional value stripped out of them only to be reconstituted into some ready-made, facsimile food product.

Wheat, barley and rye are the sources of gluten in our food. The right way to go gluten-free and reap the substantial health benefits is to substitute whole foods for the gluten foods you give up. But that’s a fact that this registered dietitian, and her other registered dietician comrades, conveniently ignore.

So she’s really missing the point. Which is to eat real nutrient-giving food, not processed food, and that means giving up grains altogether and indulging in meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Ironically, the scholarly article she uses to support her defense of grains is actually critical of our current consumption of grains. That article, which she mistakenly says supports her position that the grains we are eating are healthy, points out that the whole grain foods that food manufacturers sell don’t really include the healthiest parts of grains. The food companies almost always refine grains too much for good nutrition — even when they claim the grains are minimally processed.

Unfortunately, it seems as though most registered dietitians are behind the times. If you want a more realistic view of what wheat and other grains do to health, look to experts like William Davis for advice.

There’s no harm in giving up gluten. There’s plenty of benefit in eating meals filled with whole foods.

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Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.