Gluten is the major protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Movie stars and leading
sports figures have lauded the health benefits of gluten-free eating, but there is no
scientific evidence of a benefit for most people. Even so, the Consumer Reports
National Research Center found that 63% of Americans surveyed thought that going
gluten-free would help with weight loss or improve their physical or mental

Gluten phobia and avoiding gluten makes sense for the fewer than 1% of Americans
with a genetic predisposition to celiac disease and perhaps for the 6% of Americans
who have a gluten sensitivity that causes celiac disease symptoms without intestinal
damage. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which gluten causes intestinal
damage that interferes with the intestinal absorption of nutrients.

For others, rather than being a benefit to health, gluten-free foods are likely to be
less nutritious than similar conventional foods because many gluten-free foods are
not fortified with vitamins and ingredients such as iron. To restore their taste, gluten-
free foods are likely to be made with the high levels of unhealthy ingredients,
salt, fat, and sugar, often found in processed foods. Consumer Reports also found
that half of the gluten-free foods they tested contained rice flour or rice in another
form that contained measurable levels of the toxic inorganic chemical arsenic, a
carcinogen. Unless rice-free foods are selected, eating a gluten-free diet might lead
to the consumption of a significant amount of arsenic.

Going gluten-free should be considered an unproven food enthusiasm that is not
a good idea for most people because eating whole grains is associated with good
health. A slice of 100% whole grain bread weighing one ounce contains about 16
grams of whole grains. A meta-analysis of 45 studies found that a 90 gm/day increase
in whole grain intake resulted in a 17% decrease in risk of mortality from all
causes.446 A similar meta-analysis found that compared to those in the lowest category
of whole grain consumption, those in the highest category of consumption had
a 16% lower risk of all-cause mortality and an 18% lower risk of CVD mortality.

Gluten-free foods cost about twice as much as their conventional counterparts, and
they were a $23.3 billion market in the U.S. in 2014. Most of us would be well
advised to skip the gluten-free fad and save our money. We should stick to the current
Dietary Guidelines for Americans that call for at least three servings per day of
whole-grain intake.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel,