From the always informative Amy Myers, MD.
5 Reasons to Avoid the Gluten-Free Aisle
1. Gluten-free products can contain trace amounts of gluten.
Gluten-free products can still contain some gluten. Even certified gluten-free foods can contain up to 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten per serving. This is a minimal amount of gluten if you only consume packaged foods occasionally. However, if you eat these processed gluten-free foods every day, you can potentially expose yourself to unwanted amounts of gluten. If you consume non-certified gluten-free foods, then you’re really just taking the company’s word for it and assuming that their products are free of gluten. It’s best to check the label to see if a gluten-free product is produced in the same facility as wheat, or other gluten-containing grains.
2. Gluten-free products are nutrient poor.
I strongly believe that gluten is the most inflammatory food that you can consume, but that doesn’t mean that everything in the gluten-free aisle is necessarily healthy. When grains are refined in the manufacturing process, many vitamins and minerals are lost along with it. Gluten-free products are considerably less nutritious than real, wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a lean, organic source of animal protein.
3. Gluten-free products are high in sugar.
Whenever an ingredient is removed from a food, it’s often replaced with another ingredient for stability, shelf life, or texture purposes. For example, sugar-free foods contain sugar alcohols, and fat-free foods are often produced with man-made fats and extra sugar. Gluten-free foods are no exception to this rule, as they’re often laden with extra sugar. Excessive amounts of sugar can contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain, and ultimately suppress your immune system. In addition, too much sugar can feed gut infections like Candida and SIBO, and lead to many more health concerns.
4. Gluten-free products contain preservatives.
Preservatives increase the shelf life of a product and ensure that it’s resistant to mold and bacteria. While it’s very convenient to have food that lasts a month, it adds unnecessary chemicals and compounds to our diets. The food we eat was at one point a living organism, be it a plant or animal, and it is very natural for our meat, vegetables, grains, and fruit to decay after being harvested. Anything that can survive on your shelf for more than a week without a life source is unnatural, and is not something you want to include in your diet.
5. Gluten-free products are made with refined oils.
Inexpensive oils are often added to many gluten-free products to moisten the product and improve the texture. Refined oils such as vegetable, canola, rapeseed, safflower, and sunflower oils are all high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory. A diet higher in omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids can lead to increased inflammation.
What can I do instead?
One of the most important things you can do is to get your energy from wholesome, organic, fresh foods like organic fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, healthy oils, grass-fed beef, atlantic wild-caught salmon, and pasture-raised eggs — all of which are free of gluten by nature.
If you’ve already removed gluten from your diet, your body may be sensitive to other inflammatory foods such as dairy, eggs, and soy. Consider removing one or all of these from your diet to see if your symptoms improve.