Dr. Oz praises gluten-free diets for weight loss and health: Celiac and gluten intolerance defined
By Joanne Eglash on May 17, 2014
Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular, with consumers declaring war on wheat for reason ranging from weight loss to sensitivity to celiac disease. Not everyone understands what those terms mean, however. Dr. Mehmet Oz and his colleague Dr. Mike Roizen, authors of "YOU: The Owner's Manual: An Insider's Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger," answered that question, including explaining why eliminating gluten can be so helpful, in a recent column. We have the details and additional tips here.
Three different categories of people can benefit from going gluten-free, say Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen:
- About 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease. An autoimmune disorder, it causes a reaction to gluten that damages to the small intestine and malabsorption of nutrients, and can lead to osteoporosis, brain fog and other complications. And the search for an accurate diagnosis can be difficult and painful. For an insightful, in-depth look at what involves and how to take control of your condition, we recommend the beautifully written new book by actress Jennifer Esposito: "Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease--What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again" (click for details).
- An estimated 18 million suffer from a gluten or wheat sensitivity that triggers headaches, tiredness, inflammation, joint pain and digestive discomfort. Some say that eliminating all grains can help reduce symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases. For guidance on how to achieve that goal and what to eat instead, we recommend "Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great" by Danielle Walker.
- And even if you don't have a problem with gluten, eliminating grains can benefit your health and even boost weight loss according to a number of experts. Among the leaders in explicating precisely how consuming grains impacts your health: Dr. David Perlmutter, author of "Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers."
Despite these experts' views, a flock of food-related columnists are suddenly disputing whether gluten intolerance exists. They cite a research paper indicating that FODMAPS rather than gluten is the enemy. Real Clear Science notes: "Coincidentally, some of the largest dietary sources of FODMAPs -- specifically bread products -- are removed when adopting a gluten-free diet, which could explain why the millions of people worldwide who swear by gluten-free diets feel better after going gluten-free. Indeed, the rise in non-celiac gluten sensitivity seems predominantly driven by consumers and commercial interests, not quality scientific research."
Oh snap? This assumption reminds us of the grain-heavy food pyramid that we have been advised to eat for years, despite increasing evidence (and yes, we're talking about "quality scientific research") that a low-carb diet is significantly better for weight loss and health.
And for a medical exploration of how going grain-free can benefit your health in dramatic ways, read Dr. Terry Wahls' book: "The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine" (click for details). She tells the story of how using a Paleo-style low-carb plan (which means giving up gluten in all forms) helped conquer her MS symptoms.
On her site, Dr. Wahls says:
The risk of grains and legumes is the high level of carbohydrates and insulin needed to handle those carbohydrates. The high insulin levels lead to worsening inflammation. And too many carbohydrates leads to a greater risk of the wrong bacteria in the bowels, further increasing the inflammation and risk of autoimmune problems. For those who are vegetarians for deep reasons, I would recommend at least switching to gluten-free grains and soaking or sprouting the grains and legumes for 24 hours prior to eating them.
The problem with gluten (wheat, rye and barley) and casein (dairy) is that, in the genetically at-risk person (estimated to be 1 in 8), those proteins can sometimes be recognized as foreign invaders (bacteria) by our immune cells. Too much inflammation happens, leading to many kinds of health problems and symptoms including asthma, skin rashes, arthritis, mood problems and multiple sclerosis.
As for those who question the link between gluten-free diets and weight loss, consider this statement: "Like an infection that raises the body temperature set point, high consumption of refined carbohydrates — chips, crackers, cakes, soft drinks, sugary breakfast cereals and even white rice and bread — has increased body weights throughout the population." The writers, David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD and Mark I. Friedman, PhD, offer this reflection in a New York Times article that follows their JAMA research paper on adiposity.
Bottom line: It's breakfast time - and we're banning the bread in favor of bacon.