Study: Gluten-Free Diets Can Do More Harm Than Good

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 07/31/2014 | 01:15 PM EDT

Nutrition experts say gluten-free products don’t contain essential vitamins and minerals

Be wary of foods labeled “gluten-free” - just because it may appear like a healthier choice, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice.


That’s what one new report is indicating, as nutrition experts determined that gluten-free products don’t contain essential vitamins and minerals. And for those whom a gluten-free diet is necessary are advised to carefully balance their diet or take a vitamin supplement.


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Study author Karla Shelnutt says the gluten-free diet is popular with women trying to lose weight, but it might not be their best choice if they don't have celiac disease, which affects only 1 percent of the population.


"The problem is you have a lot of healthy women who choose a gluten-free diet because they believe it is healthier for them and can help them lose weight and give them healthier skin," Shelnutt said, reports the New York Daily News.


She adds that such women will start avoiding foods like cereals fortified with folic acid, which is considered to be essential for women's health.


The University of Florida study assessed people's taste for gluten-free foods and their perception of the gluten-free diet by means of taste testing and a questionnaire. One third of the 97 male and female participants said they believed gluten-free foods were healthier than their conventional counterparts.


Nearly 60 percent of participants said they believed a gluten-free diet can treat adverse medical conditions and 35 percent believed gluten-free could ameliorate digestive health. As far as overall health is concerned, 31 percent of participants believed gluten-free was "healthier" and 32 percent believed doctors prescribed gluten-free eating for weight loss and felt that gluten-free would improve the diet in general.


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The reality is that eating gluten-free can lead to weight loss because the diet reduces carbohydrate intake, however, this can be achieved without adhering to gluten-free labeling, Shelnutt says.

(Photo: Artiga Photo/Corbis)

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