"Gluten is bad" — Myth or fact?



MYTH: Gluten is bad

I think the first time I heard this was in a movie and since then I've known it as a diet trend. In fact, gluten-free diet (GFD) is a thing.
You can find a lot of health and wellness coaches and diet experts that support the idea.
But this is a myth.

Gluten is a group of proteins (prolamins) found in many grains, including wheat, barley, and rye. Sometimes it’s in oats, but only for "a contaminated oat". Oats, Pure Oats, themselves don’t contain gluten.
In wheat it includes gliadin and glutenin, while in barley is hordein.
It's common in processed foods such as bread, muffins, pasta, pizza, and cereal commonly as an additive. Gluten however provides no essential nutrients.

These "grain proteins" have been proved capable of triggering gastrointestinal and autoimmune reactions for those with coeliac disease (CD), non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), wheat allergy and other conditions.
This being because digestive enzymes can’t completely break down gluten. And when undigested gluten makes its way to the small intestine, it can trigger a reaction.
For this group of people only a gluten-free diet can help manage their conditions.

But asides these, no research has proven that gluten has harmful effects on other people without these conditions. In fact, most people can handle the undigested gluten with no problems.

One would wonder why "gluten-free diet" has gained so much probability right?. Well, it may be for a number of reasons like celebrities promoting it, media propaganda and marketing by those that produce "gluten-free" foods.

Although there are many people who say they felt healthier, lost weight or felt less fatigued after going on a gluten-free diet. And this may be true but the benefits are not entirely due to exclusion of gluten from their diet but rather because gluten is usually found in mixtures with carbs and sugars which are responsible for unhealthy symptoms. And this is mostly in Junk foods.

Interestingly enough, foods for a
GFD have more calories, protein, saturated fatty acids, and often sugar than those with gluten.
Also, research found out that those who eat gluten have the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes.
In the same vain, foods often favored on a gluten-free diet like rice and fish, may concentrate toxic heavy metals like arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead. But foods that contain gluten reduce the risk of exposure to these toxic heavy metals.

The bottomline is that gluten doesn't contain the "essential dietary nutrients" but it isn't harmful either, at least no research as given any yet. The only people that should be "overly" worried about gluten are those with conditions that make them gluten-intolerant.

Thanks for reading.


Selvi Rajagopal, M.D., M.P.H.
What Is Gluten and What Does It Do?. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/what-is-gluten-and-what-does-it-do?amp=true

Robert H. Shmerling, MD. Ditch the gluten, improve your health? https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ditch-the-gluten-improve-your-health.

Jillian Kubala, MS, RD. Is Gluten Bad for You? A Critical Look. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-gluten-bad#intolerance

Joel Kahn, M.D. 5 Major Health Benefits Of Gluten. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/health-benefits-of-gluten-cancer-heart-disease-toxins/