October 17, 2012

“There is no evidence to suggest that following a gluten-free diet has any significant
benefits in the general population.” That is the finding of a study published in the
September 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The study was written by Glenn A. Gaesser, a professor at Arizona State University,
and Siddhartha S. Angadi, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California,
Los Angeles, School of Nursing. For those without celiac disease or gluten
sensitivity, gluten-free dieting “may adversely affect gut health,” the authors

Noting that gluten-free dieting has gained considerable popularity,
they said additional research is needed to “clarify the health effects of gluten
and potential consequences of avoiding gluten-containing grains.” While no data
have been published to support a weight loss claim for going gluten free, there
are several studies of celiac patients that suggest body mass index status may
deteriorate for those on a gluten-free diet.

The study also identifies a number of potential health benefits associated with gluten
that could be imperiled on a gluten-free diet. “Gluten-rich grains, especially wheat,
may have health benefits attributable to naturally occurring fructan-type
resistant starches as well as gluten itself,” Dr. Gaesser said. “By creating a
healthy composition of colon bacteria, whole grain wheat products may protect the
gut from some cancers, inflammatory conditions, and cardiovascular disease.
Gluten, and one of its component proteins gliadin, may contribute to blood
pressure control and immune function. Because wheat is the main source of gluten
in the American diet, these studies may help explain the consistent findings of
health benefits of whole grain consumption.” Dr. Gaesser, who has been an
outspoken critic of anti-carbohydrate dieting, is the advisory board chairman of
the Grain Foods Foundation. He was engaged by the G.F.F. to review the scientific
literature associated with gluten-free dieting. In an introduction, Dr. Gaesser
said the top reason consumers cite when purchasing gluten-free products is that
“they are perceived to be healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts.”

reprinted from Bakery Production & Marketing Newsletter Aug. 31, 2012