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To Be Or Not To Be… Gluten-Free

Jan 12, 2017, 09:51 AM by Emily Luxford, MS, RDN
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Gluten-free – two little words have taken the athletic world by storm. Is this diet as effective as it seems?

Jimmy Kimmel recently shed light on the phenomena of this diet craze. While visiting a Los Angeles exercise hot spot, his staff inquired about the prevalence and purpose of the gluten-free diet. It seems this diet is trending in the athletic world but no one knows why. Most people know the most common sources of gluten, but few know what it is and how it impacts their day-to-day health or athletic prowess.

In order to evaluate this fad diet, one must answer the five W’s: who, what, where, when and why.

WHO: A gluten-free diet is mandatory for individuals with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease that affects 1 out of 100 people worldwide. Abstaining from gluten benefits these individuals, however, there is no
research proving that gluten-free diets promote weight loss or enhance the health of the average individual or athlete.

WHAT: Gluten is the composite of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin.

WHERE: Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. Oats may be contaminated and should be consumed with caution. Gluten serves as a binder which makes it an ideal ingredient for baked goods, salad dressings and sauces, soups and most processed
foods. Gluten is often a hidden ingredient and may not be included in the ingredient list.

A gluten-free diet is a lifelong commitment for those individuals with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance.

WHY: The individual with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity who follows a gluten-free diet experiences relief from multiple symptoms which may include gastrointestinal distress, headaches, fatigue and dermatitis. This diet also protects the individual from other chronic diseases associated with untreated Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity. For the general population, gluten-free may cause more harm than good.

Gluten-free products are often higher in fat and/or sugar and lack the nutrients found in their glutinous counterparts. Choosing a diet rich in fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables and various protein sources improves the quality of your diet and, as a result, the quality of your health. This diet should include grains and cereals – whether it’s with or without gluten depends on your gut.

Emily Luxford, MS, RD

Emily Luxford is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutritional science. She received her degree from California State University in Long Beach, CA. Since 2013, Ms. Luxford has worked with Dr. Zerey in the Bariatric Surgery Center to provide an integrative approach to nutrition support before and after surgery.