Gluten-free isn’t a free pass

A lot of people nowadays swear by their “gluten-free” diets. They say it helped them lose weight and lower their blood pressure.

And those results are great. But they probably didn’t get those results by simply cutting out gluten. They probably lost weight and lowered their blood pressure because they cut out processed carbs.

You see, for most people, gluten isn’t a problem. Only a small minority has an actual gluten allergy. And, indeed, it can wreak havoc on their lives.

By comparison, processed carbs cause problems for many, many people.

You see, gluten is a protein naturally found in wheat, barley, and rye. But most of the gluten Americans eat today comes from processed foods.

Processed food manufacturers use it to bind and thicken ingredients. So you find it in processed foods like bread, pasta, cereal, and pizza. Surprisingly, you can also find it in foods like ice cream and candy.

So, when someone goes on a gluten-free diet, they have to cut out all these processed foods. And they wind up eating many more natural, whole foods. And that’s how they lose weight and get healthier.

Now, here’s where the problem comes in…

A lot like big pharma, food manufacturers need to offer trendy new products continually to make more money and satisfy their customer base. And now, some manufacturers are trying to parlay the latest gluten-free food craze into a new revenue source. So you see lots of processed, “gluten-free” products on grocery store shelves.

Don’t be fooled. Just because these foods are gluten-free doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Gluten-free baked goods are still junk foods. These foods are typically filled with sugar, sodium, and other refined grains for taste. (It’s similar to what food manufacturers do to make low-fat foods. They take out the fat, but give you extra sugar and carbs in its place.)

Plus, if you choose to follow a gluten-free diet unnecessarily, you could miss out on vital nutrients found in whole grains, like fiber and natural B vitamins.

So, unless a qualified physician, using appropriate testing, has diagnosed you with Celiac disease or a wheat allergy, you can skip the gluten-free foods. I’d rather you eat 100 percent whole wheat bread.

And if you do have Celiac disease or a wheat allergy, try to focus on filling your diet with all-natural, whole foods. Focus on eating healthy, lean meats, fish, legumes, and leafy greens. (That’s a good approach for all of us.) And if you do buy a packaged gluten-free product, look for one that lists a gluten-free whole grain, such as brown rice flour, as the first ingredient. I recommend the brand Aleia’s Gluten-Free Foods.