• Remana Jamal

Should Everyone Go Gluten Free?

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and spelt. It has a glue-like consistency to help stick dough together. Examples of the most common gluten-containing foods are pizza, bread, pasta, and cereals. A gluten-free diet is a trend and almost everyone is following it claiming that it’s healthier, but this doesn’t make much sense. There’re some people who should go gluten-free, due to the harmful effects they get from consuming gluten.

· Who should go gluten-free?

Most of the population can tolerate gluten without having symptoms or pain. But unfortunately, some people have health conditions that require them to remove gluten from their diet; these are celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease (attacking your organs) where your body treats gluten as a foreign substance, which makes your immune system attack gluten and attacks your gut wall causing damage. The damaged gut wall can cause mal-absorption that can further cause nutrient deficiencies such as, anemia, osteoporosis, and other diseases. Following a gluten-free diet is the major medical treatment for celiac patients; it’s also very challenging to do so, requiring a dietician to plan your diet and to guide you through the gluten-free journey and how to get all your nutrients from alternative sources.

Healthy gut vs celiac disease damaged gut

Gluten intolerance has similar symptoms as celiac disease (diarrhea, bloating, pain, and discomfort) but without damaging the gut wall. Other symptoms of gluten intolerance are headache, depression, joint pain, and fatigue.

· What about everyone else?

People who can tolerate gluten just fine don’t need to go gluten-free. Grain products are fortified with folic acid, iron, calcium, and other B vitamins, by eliminating them from your diet you’ll most probably be deficient. Whole grain products are high in fiber, unlike gluten-free products that lack fiber. A 2017 study concluded that going gluten-free increases your risk of heart diseases in the long term, due to the low fiber in gluten-free products that is needed for a healthy heart. Gluten can be considered as a prebiotic that feeds the good gut bacteria and keep the gut healthy.

Going gluten-free will cost you more money and isn’t considered as a healthier option. Only people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should avoid gluten completely and should see a dietician to well plan their diet. If you don’t have medical reasons to cut it completely from your diet, then enjoy being healthy and enjoy your grains.


Medical News Today. (2019). Gluten: What is it and why is it bad for some people?.

Strawbridge, H. (2019). Going gluten-free just because? Here's what you need to know - Harvard Health Blog.

The Nutrition Source. (2019). Gluten: A Benefit or Harm to the Body?.

Medical News Today. (2019). Gluten-free diet: Foods, benefits, and risks.

Harvard Health. (2019). Ditch the Gluten, Improve Your Health? - Harvard Health.

Healthline. (2019). Is Gluten Bad for You? A Critical Look.

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