Food & Drink

The Dangerous Effect of Going Gluten-Free

People have little reason to give up gluten.
IMAGE Getty
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Gluten-free diets are losing ground. After analyzing data from more than 100,000 adults over a period of 35 years, new research shows that those with more gluten in their diets were at less risk for coronary heart disease. The study, published in British Medical Journal, indicated that unless someone has a serious gluten intolerance or celiac disease, they should not avoid gluten, however intriguing a gluten-free diet might sound.

The claims about gluten-free diets are substantial. People go gluten-free to lose weight, to get rid of intestinal problems, to feel less bloated, and be less tired. Those with autoimmune disorders (not limited to celiac disease) are sometimes advised to limit it to cut inflammation. Gluten consumption has even been tied to depression. In 2015, a Gallup poll found that 21 percent of American adults have attempted to follow a gluten-free diet. However, only 1 percent of Americans are diagnosed with celiac disease, and only up to 6 percent might be sensitive to gluten without celiac. It's definitely a fad, and a controversial one.

It's possible that by unnecessarily cutting out gluten for the long term, "you miss other essential nutrients and that might have a negative effect," study author Andrew Chan told Gizmodo. Gluten is most often digested in whole grains, and whole grains are themselves tied to lower risk of heart disease. (Heart disease is the number one killer of adults in the U.S.) When a normally gluten-filled food is processed to be gluten-free, it is robbed of nutrients like "fiber, iron, zinc, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, vitamin B12, and phosphorus," according to Live Science. Dietary fibers in whole grains keep guts healthy, and antioxidants keep the metabolism and heart healthy.

But for those with real intolerances, or persistence in fad dieting, naturally gluten-free whole grains—like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat—exist. Anything for a healthy heart.

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This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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