The Gluten-Free Facts (& Those That Aren't)
A little tweet popped up on my feed today (as tweets do). It was linked to another rant about going gluten-free (and the need not to).
Unlike many rants, this one was rather more well-informed. Instead of a cursory glance towards coeliac disease, it actually had quite a comprehensive amount of information on Coeliacs and why we need to eat gluten-free food.
If you'd like to have a little read (well, quite a big one - it's rather a long post) then click here to see it.
Sadly, there were a few inaccuracies. Only a few, but I think it's important to clear them up before people start quoting untruths...
"Some studies have found a direct link between a gluten-free diet and nutritional deficiencies." I'm sure there are people who are deficient who don't do a gluten-free diet properly. For all the Coeliacs who are now panicking, as long as you've followed your dietician's rules about getting enough nutrition from each of the key food groups, there's really nothing for you to worry about. These studies are clearly based on people who haven't sourced all the correct vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, fats and so forth that are needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
"It is known that gluten-free products can be much lower in nutritional value than their gluten-containing counterparts." Really? Which ones? A battered cod or a big meat pie? Oh, you mean gluten-free biscuits and bread (and anything else that normally contains gluten but doesn't necessarily have a four figure calorie count per portion). Well, let's just say that we Coeliacs are simply trying to feel normal every now and then. If we eat a cookie that contains twice as much fat as its gluten counterpart then that's sadly the way it has to be until things change (and that will only happen if people buy more gluten-free cookies and thereby fuel investment into better gluten-free products).
"Oats are technically gluten-free." Well, only if they've been through a pure process and not handled by machinery that's been around wheat. So please don't sneak normal oats into a meal and claim it's gluten-free (our bowels won't thank you).
"The evidence shows that less than 1% of Celiac patients actually show negative side effects when consuming high amounts of oats." Actually it's 5% (and I'm included).
The "extensive study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology examined 371 celiac patients [and found that] 81% had actually gained weight". And most of them were overweight to begin with. Is this really a study to be trusted? Why not take a normal sample of Coeliacs? We aren't all obese and I can assure you over 80% of people who are already supersized doesn't match up to the national average.
Finally, that study that only involved 37 people? Come on! Are we really going to trust it? I'd need to know that thousands of people had been involved before I started to take notice.
I agree if you don't have a medical diagnosis or a clear reason to go gluten-free (i.e. real symptoms, not those fuelled by media hype) then there's little reason to opt out of your daily bread.
But for those of us with real problems around gluten, it can be really hard to read all the reasons not to give up gluten (like weight gain). And it's wonderful for us that there's been a gluten-free revolution. Long may it last! We've gained so much from the free-from aisle and more awareness in eating establishments. We're inching towards better lifestyles for ourselves in a world that, not so long ago, made things very, very difficult.
What are your thoughts on gluten-free? Do share them below!