While there is a lot of talk about the ‘universal health benefits’ of going gluten-free, there are many aspects of the lifestyle that most people are still unsure or unaware about. We believe that there is some truth out there, but that it is also important to clear the air on some of the bigger gluten and gluten-free myths.
Myth #1: Everyone should try going Gluten-free!
Unless you have been medically diagnosed with celiac disease, avoiding gluten may not have any beneficial effect on your body’s natural system, and may actually lead to deficiencies in some areas. Eliminating gluten from your diet unnecessarily can shock your system as well as your wallet, as most gluten-free foods tend to be more expensive due to the extra step to remove the gluten.
Myth #2: Gluten can be absorbed through the skin from cosmetics or sunscreen.
Generally, cosmetics and sunscreen that contain gluten will have no effect on people with sensitivities and allergies. While the gluten cannot be absorbed through the skin, The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research warns that you should still be weary of accidental consumption of lipsticks or any product that might be placed in or around the month. If you do happen to experience a skin rash while using certain products, consult a doctor to determine the cause. It is almost recommended that you wash your hands after applying these products, as there is the chance of accidental ingestion through transfer.
Myth #3: Gluten-free foods are healthier automatically.
When people go gluten-free, most feel like they are cutting out ‘junk food’ and ‘excess carbs’. However, the thing about gluten-substitutes, is that they can be just that: substitutes. Gluten-free foods are often filled with more sugar, fat and salt in order to replicate normal bread, while leaving out important nutrients like folic acid and iron.
Myth #4: Going Gluten-free will lead to weight-loss. Always.
While those celiac friendly crackers may be gluten-free, they still contain all the other salty ingredients of a regular cracker. Unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, substituting your diet may not be as beneficial as monitoring it and mediating it. Going gluten-free may translate to consuming less carbs, but it does not give the same results as eating healthy and regular exercise.
Myth #5: You can tell if you have Celiac Disease by comparing your symptoms and through self-monitoring.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness strongly discourages you from self-diagnosing as there is no better way to know than by consulting with your doctor and getting results from blood tests. While your symptoms may be strikingly similar or vastly different from others around you with celiac disease, that does not completely argue for or against a gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease varies from person to person, as well as the level of gluten sensitivity, and both should be determined by professional medical physicians.
With so much information on gluten out there, it’s easy to get confused about what’s true and what’s opinion. If you find yourself with a question about gluten or any other food sensitivities or allergies out there, be sure to check with a medical professional to get an answer that doesn’t compromise your health.