A few months ago, former Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus announced she’s on gluten-free diet — dismissing rumors that she was battling anorexia. She was the latest celeb to join the gluten-free diet bandwagon. But what exactly is a gluten-free diet? Is it for everyone who wants to lose weight?
In a recent study featured on the American Journal of Gastroenterology, about 1.6 million Americans are on gluten-free diet even though they have never been diagnosed with celiac disease — a disorder resulting from an immune reaction to gluten.
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, bran, enriched flour, and barley. People with celiac disease must avoid these foods to prevent an immune response that could damage the small intestine, which causes gastrointestinal distress and nutritional deficiencies. However, for people without the disease, a gluten-free diet may not necessarily mean healthy.
Experts say that many gluten-free foods have higher calorie contents than gluten-containing products. Similarly, people who skip gluten may be more likely to fall short on important nutrients needed by the body, including iron, B vitamins, and fiber.
Although gluten protein is not suitable for people with celiac disease, they could just be a better alternative for people who are allergic to soy or dairy. Gluten is also a protein of choice for people with high cholesterol or other health problems and cannot get their protein from red meat.