Is Gluten-Free Really A Healthier Option?

It’s pretty obvious at the moment that gluten-free is all the rage! From athletes, to celebrities, to your neighor down the road… everyone is raving about the benefits of going gluten-free.

Advertisers and marketing experts have jumped all over this new trend and are offering up scores of new products that are all gluten-free to cash in on the public’s growing appetite for avoiding this grain based protein. It’s become so popular that products that never contained gluten in the first place are advertising as such, as an effective way to increase their sales.

A recent article in the Globe & Mail titled “Gluten Free Doesn’t Mean It’s Healthier” hits the nail right on the head with their tag line. The author, registered dietician Leslie Beck, highlights the many pitfalls of oversimplifying things and assuming everything that is gluten-free is good for you. She does a great job of highlighting some of the deficiencies of simply switching over your regular bread to gluten free.

While I enjoyed the article and though it was very insightful, I’d like to add what I think is really the key point. The whole notion of going gluten free is so that you can eat more vegetables, leafy greens, quality proteins, and healthy fats. In clinical practice, the most consistent thing I see is a lack of sufficient intake of these foods, which are critical for improving overall health and well-being.

Make sure you’re having at least two ‘fist-sized’ portions of fruit and veg at every meal. And try including sweet potatoes or other root vegetables for your carbohydrates at meal time rather than bread. Unlike breads, they don’t have to be “fortified” (artificially adding back vitamins and minerals lost during processing) as they are naturally rich in key nutrients.

Remember, don't just swap out regular bread for gluten-free… swap out the bread altogether! Eating a diet centered around real food - quality proteins, healthy fats, leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits – will improve your health to a far greater degree than any gluten free product that comes in a box or bag.

Until next time,

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CSCS