Most people had never heard of gluten until about a decade ago, and now millions of Americans are ditching wheat, barley, and rye in order to avoid this protein. Let's be clear: For those with celiac disease, a serious autoimmune condition triggered by gluten, a gluten-free diet is a medical necessity. But for a vast majority of people, there is zero reason to avoid gluten. Yet somehow gluten-free diets have been misconstrued as a hot ticket to weight loss. They're not. "Gluten free certainly does not equal healthy," Mangieri says. In fact, gluten-free packaged foods tend to have more added sugar and calories than their conventional counterparts. On top of that, by eliminating wheat, rye, and barley, you're also eliminating great sources of fiber, protein, and key vitamins and minerals—and many people fail to eat extra fruits, veggies, and lean meats to make up for those nutrient losses.
Apart from those who go gluten-free to shed pounds — or, worse, just because it's trendy — throngs of people shun gluten because they think it gives them gas, cramps, diarrhea, even headaches or low energy. However, thanks to new scientific evidence, leading doctors and dietitians now think that most people who assume they have non-celiac gluten sensitivity actually don't. Instead of gluten, it's likely FODMAPs, a class of carbohydrates found in wheat, dairy, sweeteners, and all kinds of fruits and vegetables, that's causing them gastrointestinal distress.
Their new message: Don't just assume your problem is gluten and take it out of your diet. "You could be missing what you're problem truly is and unnecessarily missing out on important foods," Mangieri says. "Rather than jumping on the latest, greatest trend, work with a registered dietitian to figure out exactly which foods are causing you trouble."
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