Is Being Gluten-Free Really Better For You?

A gluten-free diet has recently become popular across the country. With increases in those diagnosed with celiac disease and a rise in those with a gluten intolerance, gluten has made itself known as a component in some foods that we, for some reason, have never really bothered to notice before. But what about those with no intolerance to gluten? Personally, I am completely against a gluten-free diet if you do not have the necessary need for it, but people are all about it and I wanted to find out if it is worth it or just another fad.

A gluten-free diet excludes the protein gluten. The protein can be found in most grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is mostly found in baked foods and is the only protein found in food that is completely indigestible, according to Live Science. For those with celiac disease, gluten irritates the lining of the small intestine, causing the immune system to attack the villi - projections that help absorb nutrients for the body. In time, the villi can become damaged and the body will no longer be able to absorb necessary nutrients.

There are two popular reasons why people are on a gluten-free diet without any intolerance to gluten: weight loss and an increase in energy. The School of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin says that there may be other reasons why one experiences these two things when on a gluten-free diet. There may be weight loss when on a gluten-free diet, but it depends on what foods you decided to replace it with, not necessarily that it is just gluten-free. The increase in energy may also be because you are eating better foods like vegetables and fruits, which you really should be eating whether you are gluten-free or not but that is none of my business.

So, what are the benefits of a gluten-free diet? For those with celiac disease and a gluten intolerance, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for these conditions. What are the benefits for those who do not have an intolerance toward gluten and are on a gluten-free diet? Well, the benefit may be that you sound healthier and superior to others who are not aware of the facts, but reality is, you are hurting your body more than helping it.

Avoiding foods with gluten may mean that you are avoiding other nutrients that your body needs to absorb such as iron and calcium, according to the School of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin. A gluten-free diet may also decrease the amount of bacteria that is helpful for your gut, threatening your immune system. Although you may find yourself eating healthier, you can potentially gain more weight on a gluten-free diet. Many products that are gluten free are higher in calories, according to Live Science.

Besides all of those health risks to your body that a gluten-free diet can have, it can also affect your wallet. Gluten-free products tend to be more expensive and, as a college student on a budget, I see no reason to spend more on a diet that is doing nothing for me.

For those with celiac disease and a gluten intolerance, a gluten-free diet helps them to feel better and helps treat the disease. If you are on a gluten-free diet or thinking about being gluten-free to eliminate more carbs and sugar and to be more “healthy,” think twice. The risks of being on a gluten-free diet without any need to outweigh the benefits and you will just find yourself gaining more weight, getting fewer nutrients, and having less money in your pocket. Instead, try having a well-balanced diet and incorporate those healthy, gluten-containing foods.