Going Gluten Free in the supposed belief that you will achieve health is a fast growing trend. But it may be a short sighted plan. In fact, adhering to a gluten free diet poses many long term health risks. Generally, people on a gluten-free diet actually eat more processed, nutrient deficient foods, than people on a regular diet. Many gluten-free foods contain unhealthy ingredients such as guar gum. Guar gum acts as an indigestible binder in many foods and diet pills. When consumed in high amounts, guar gum has very dangerous side effects including death, pulmonary embolism, luminal obstruction, esophageal tear and small bowel obstruction. Diet pills containing guar gum, have been banned in multiple countries. Reported side effects of guar gum in food include: asthma, breathing problems, and explosive diarrhea. Guar Gum specifically poses a risk to the digestive system, because of the high amount of water it absorbs which causes dehydration in the digestive tract. This is one of the major reasons why guar gum is a common additive to diet pills. Since it absorbs a lot of the body's water weight, it has a 'slimming' effect, making the person mistakenly believe that they are actually losing weight, when in fact, they are losing water weight.
Another unhealthy ingredient added to many gluten free foods is polysorbate 80. According to an article published by the Medical News Today, "many emulsifiers, specifically dairy emulsifiers (food binders) may be responsible for the rise in colorectal cancer." This includes polysorbate 80. At the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, researchers found that polysorbate 80 alters microbes in the gut, creating "an environment favorable for the development of cancer." Researchers have also linked polysorbate 80 to leaky gut syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. Many gluten-free foods contain polysorbate 80, such as gluten-free cake dough, cake fillings, ice cream, whipping cream and dairy substitutes.
In a 4 year study conducted on gluten free dieters involving almost 200,000 participants, researchers found that people who consumed the least gluten had a 13% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Whereas people who consumed whole grains had a much lower chance of developing diabetes. According to the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority and the Gluten-Free Society processed, gluten free foods contain more sugar, unhealthy fats and other unhealthy fillers than non-gluten free, processed foods. Not to mention that they also contain GMO grains and pesticides. Additionally, many studies have proven that going on a gluten free diet increases the risk of developing obesity, high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, and vitamin and mineral deficiency. Even commercial, unhealthy processed breads and cereals contain vitamins such as the B vitamins and iron along with others.
"Our findings show that gluten restriction has no benefit, at least in terms of heart health for people without celiac disease" were the exact words of leading researcher, Benjamin Lebwohl from the Columbia University Medical Center. This study was carried out on 110,017 people who did not have celiac who were on the gluten free diet anyways. Lebwohl said that the chance of developing heart disease was higher among gluten free dieters. He also said that the reason for this was not because the participants didn't eat gluten, but because they did not consume whole grains which boosts heart health.
Another unhealthy ingredient used in most gluten free baked goods is xantham gum. The health risks of this ingredient have not been studied much, but what consumers should know about this additive is what it's made from. When you buy it, it's in a white powder form, but it actually stems from an ingredient called xanthomanos campestris which is commonly known as black rot, a vegetable disease. Food manufacturers then mix it in with a compound of fermented glucose, starches, sugars and nutrients from GM soy, corn or regular wheat. Then viola, you get xantham gum.
I was on a gluten free diet for years, but I didn't buy any processed foods. I didn't buy gluten free flours. I cooked everything at home from scratch. Then I was introduced to stone ground bread. Expecting to experience a bad reaction from the gluten in the bread, I took my first bite with trepidation. No bad reaction. Happily, I am no longer on a gluten free diet.
Read labels carefully. Common ingredients in many gluten free foods are actually dangerous. Consistent exposure to these toxic ingredients can lead to health problems in the long term.