Should non-celiacs go gluten-free?

Gluten-free diets contribute to a healthier lifestyle
Gluten-free diets are in no way healthy or beneficial
Started by
Aya Abitbul

The Issue

In 2011, a crusade was launched against gluten, one of the oldest and most widely consumed nutrients, a core crop in many cultures’ cuisines. While one percent of the population has the diagnosed autoimmune disorder, celiac disease, which causes a severe sensitivity to gluten, doctors, nutritionists, and researchers are beginning to blame gluten for the recent rise in many illnesses in non-celiacs, ranging from arthritis to schizophrenia. Many have praised gluten-free diets for relieving their ill symptoms and are encouraging people to eliminate the allegedly poisonous protein from their diets altogether. Others are claiming that gluten may not have any effect on non-celiacs, citing evidence that other compounds, or a “nocebo” effect, are better explanations for symptoms.

Remaining Questions

6 questions total

Final Thoughts

What people think
Pro: Gluten-free
  • 0 0va3t667r2movk4xkvi8dlc7xhfxvncmxld7kpg7xwkoxkdkkvd3u  7phyipk5xrv582bufcozymkowk6qjw sitoz0mkslk6qgc1zamihppqnmpbcugbn0 xffrkvqj5kdl34jwy1
    David Riccione

    Although I'm willing to concede that there are a considerable number of popular, yet scientifically refuted, rumors disparaging the gluten-based diet, that certainly doesn't exclude every claim against gluten. Evidence directly suspects gluten's relationship with mental illness. Furthermore, it's undoubtedly the case that the way in which we produce and process gluten-based foods has changed dramatically in the recent centuries, and the medical community's recent consensus that gluten sensitivity exists seams to imply some correlation.

    Aside from the direct arguments against gluten, the indirect evidence that gluten based foods, like wheat, are being stripped of their nutritional value is also troubling.

    I agree that our society is rightfully ambivalent towards the subject of gluten, but I think there is enough suspicious evidence centric of gluten to be weary of the protein.

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    Lauren Lankford

    I think this issue depends entirely on one's response to gluten. As someone who is not sensitive to gluten, I can deduce from reading this Nia that a gluten-free diet wouldn't be particularly beneficial to me. There is not enough evidence provided to sway me into trying a gluten free diet. I've learned with time what's nutritional and easy on my body with time, and I believe cutting gluten from diet would be unnecessary.

    Obviously, I can't speak for everyone. For those dealing with celiac- of course, gluten-free all the way. One should opt to be gluten-free if it's what their body needs, not because it's a recent trendy diet.

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  • 0 1p n0plk8qfioy0kp4zcqbq5xigify 3mscnvb9kqnfceu2aspczcxzkikmc7ft3msczzbrxhfdgdzql07qecbvhsfd dzegs7qvpqflq64fimp39orry 3qdtcp8z0u12gsuqitjuv
    Molly Banta

    I think one of the most important questions of this Nia was whether or not other things in wheat-based products may be the cause of the "gluten intolerance" -- and a fair amount of evidence has certainly shown FODMAP's are often the cause of the sensitive stomach many associate with gluten. In this instance, though gluten is not the cause of the discomfort, it may be best to follow a diet that ressembles one that is gluten-free as mentioning FODMAP's at a restaurant or at the grocery store may be more difficult. Regardless, a higher level of customization is necessary than simply writing oneself off as gluten-free.

    For those who do not experience this 'insensitivity' it does not make sense to follow a gluten free diet (unless of course you are actually celiac). It seems to be debatable whether or not a gluten-free diet may help in weight loss and with depression, though I wonder if positive results may simply be from being more cognizant of the food we are putting in our mouths...

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    Aya Abitbul
    Nia Creator

    The nia includes research that indicates the existence of gluten intolerance after a long term gluten free diet. This leads me to believe that despite lack of hard evidence suggesting that all gluten cannot be properly digested, there is certainly some aspect of the gluten protein that doesn't completely flow well. That being said, research suggests that gluten free diets lack in essential nutrients, such as zinc and iron, so if you decide to go gluten free, you ought to make sure that you consume other foods that supplement for this vitamin loss.

    In terms of weight loss, I believe that a gluten free diet will certainly help. Perhaps refraining from gluten products is not because of the elimination of the protein itself, rather because the most common gluten products, like bread, pasta, or rice, tend to be laden with fattening carbohydrates.

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    Satchie Snellings

    After reviewing this Nia, I have come to the conclusion that a Gluten-free diet should only be attempted by people who have a specific gluten intolerance.

    In the case of celiac disease, gluten should absolutely be avoided. The variety of support stories above prove that the jury is still out on the validity of nonceliac gluten sensitivity. It is my opinion that until there is more conclusive science, people should approach gluten on a case by case basis.

    I do not think it is wise to go on a gluten-free diet as a means of losing weight or for the express purpose of alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. Although, I did find the studies which claimed it could prove helpful with these mental health issues quite interesting.

    For the time being, I believe that you should only go gluten-free as a means of avoiding illness and negative reactions. I remain fascinated to see what science tells us about this relevant issue in the future.

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    Abby Lyall

    To me, it depends on whether or not you have a sensitivity to gluten. From the evidence presented above, it doesn't seem to me like there is anything to be gained from following a gluten-free diet if one is not sensitive/allergic to gluten (such as those with celiac disease). The lack of evidence to support gluten-free diets containing all necessary nutrients for a balanced diet and for gluten being the only problematic substance in wheat-based products strongly contributed to the formation of my opinion. However, there is evidence of certain people having a sensitivity to wheat gluten, and for those people gluten should be avoided-- even if it is not considered the most desirable diet choice for the majority of the population.

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Anti: Gluten-free
  • 12ddb88ae748838c946ec4a1118f0864
    Jordan Grossman
    Founder of Niaterra News

    For people without celiac disease, there's not much evidence to say that a gluten-free diet is anything but a fad.

    There are negative consequences of going gluten-free: the risk of weight gain, the risk of nutrient deficiencies. The only potential positive is that some research suggests it may reduce depression. I'm highly skeptical of those studies though, and think the ones that refute them are probably correct.

    The most interesting aspect of gluten-free diets is that they do reduce some GI symptoms. The best explanation for this is that perhaps there is something else in the food that is the culprit, not gluten: a class of carbohydrates called FODMAPs.

    If someone has issues with FODMAPs, it would behoove them to know how to avoid those compounds because they're not limited to wheat-based products. At least there's scientific evidence supporting the need for that diet over a gluten-free one.

    For those people, good luck hunting for FODMAPs!. For every other non-celiac, enjoy your gluten!

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  • 66e376040ea88b6aa5463bc3227560cb
    Lea Thali

    While there is some evidence that some people may have gluten sensitivity, there is more evidence supporting the fact that gluten is not the real culprit for anyone who does not have diagnosed Celiac disease.

    A gluten-free diet can be deficient in nutrients and may lead to weight gain, so while more research is needed on this topic, I would suggest at this stage keeping the gluten in your diet, remembering the ever useful mantra: "Everything in moderation."

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