The answer to this is, perhaps unsurprisingly, rather complicated. For most people a moderate amount of gluten in their diets won’t cause any problems. People who suffer from celiac sprue, an autoimmune disease of the digestive system, need to avoid gluten entirely. There is also a small percentage of the population that doesn’t suffer from celiac sprue but that still needs to avoid gluten due to heightened sensitivity or wheat allergies. Some health conscious individuals also choose to avoid gluten as a life style choice, as this makes it easier to stick to their weight loss programs.
Gluten is found in processed foods, such as white flour, pasta, bread and cereal. Healthy alternatives to these foods are brown flour, quinoa, rye bread and rolled oats. Those wishing to avoid gluten can also opt for brown rice, corn, yams, soybeans and buckwheat.
The reason why a gluten-free diet helps people to lose weight is not necessarily because they avoid consuming gluten, but rather because they avoid the foods that are commonly associated with gluten. For instance, if you follow a gluten free-diet, you won’t be able to eat most junk foods, such as hamburgers, pizzas and indeed any deep fried dishes. By avoiding these overdoses of carbohydrates, calories and fat you will make your dieting goals much easier to reach. Remember that it is carbohydrates that make you pack on the pounds, not gluten, as carbohydrates cause your insulin levels to spike, which in turn sends signals to the body that it should store food in the form of fat.
So in answer to the question ‘is a gluten-free diet healthy?’, the answer is yes, but not because you’re avoiding gluten. It’s not the gluten, but the foods that contain gluten, which will make you gain weight. So you can use the presence of gluten as a guideline as to whether a certain type of food is good for you or not, as long as you keep in mind who the real enemy is – carbs.