The Dr Oz Show featured the gluten-free diet as a topic on their August 11, 2011 episode. Dr Oz had as his guests, Founder and Medical Director of the Ultra Wellness Center of Massachusetts, Dr Mark Hyman, and Good Housekeeping Research Institute’s Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Director, Samantha Cassetty. Their basic advise was to eat more fiber, less starch, more naturally gluten-free food and less carbs. It was stated that 99% of us with a sensitivity to gluten don’t even know it. Seventy million Americans are effected by some form of gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Therefore, it is important to know the facts about which foods are healthier for you; whether or not you can lose weight from a gluten-free diet; and to be knowledgeable of the hidden sources of gluten. Read on to learn more.
Gluten was described as being a protein found in the center of a grain, and can be found in wheat, barley and rye. Dr Oz asked Dr Hyman whether or not gluten was making us fat. Dr Hyman explained that for most of us it isn’t, but for those of us that are gluten sensitive, yes, it is making us fat. Research is showing that gluten causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation causes resistance to insulin, meaning your body has to produce more insulin to get the blood sugar in your blood. When this occurs, you gain weight because insulin is a fat storage hormone. It makes you store fat around your waist.
He explained that gluten has been linked to approximately 50 different diseases. Just a few of the diseases are autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome; and psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety; and nutritional problems such as anemia and Vitamin D deficiency which can cause osteoporosis. It’s even been linked to heart disease and cancer.
What’s causing all of this all of sudden? Dr Hyman blamed it on our lousy diet: high sugar, high fat and processed food, all which changes our gut environment.
As far as weight loss goes, Dr Oz seemed pretty emphatic that you cannot lose weight by going on a gluten-free diet. It was evidenced by showing many packaged foods which contained higher calories and bad carbs (the kind that spike your blood sugar levels), and much less fiber than their gluten cousins. However, it was not mentioned how the rumor got started that you could lose weight on a gluten-free diet.
My thoughts are that years ago, there weren’t very many gluten-free products available and gluten-free flours were not as easily accessible, either. Gee, I remember back in 2005 when I first introduced to the gluten-free diet. I found potato flour (not starch) and soy flour at my local health food store and those made some pretty heavy carrot muffins. I finally found a few online websites which introduced me to chestnut flour. However, that was about it.
Back then gluten-free dieters, including myself, were forced to eat naturally gluten-free food, forgoing breads, pasta and many processed foods. And we did lose weight! Those individuals must have been asked how they lost their weight and that took off like a snowball! And here we are today.
Samantha Cassetty explained that products that contain refined carbohydrates: white flour (such as rice flour and potato starch for gluten-free) spike your blood sugar, thus making it harder to control cravings, control your appetite and that can lead to weight gain. She suggested eating whole grains like brown rice, beans, fruit because these items cause a steadier rise in blood sugar levels and makes it easier to manage cravings.
Dr Oz asked Samantha whether she would eat gluten-free if she had the choice and Samantha answered that there is no reason to be on a gluten-free diet unless it is medically necessary. However I believe we have to keep in mind what Dr Wyman stated above. There are so many individuals who have a gluten sensitivity and don’t even know it. I know many women who blamed their symptoms on menopause or PMS, age, etc. to later discover gluten was the cause all along. Therefore, trying a gluten-free diet to find out if it removes or improves any symptoms you may have, may be just your ticket to health.
We already know from Dr Alessio Fasano, Medical Director of University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, that our bodies do not digest gluten. That’s enough reason not to eat it.
The one thing I regret not hearing in this episode is that there are plenty of gluten-free products which are high in fiber and either low or absent of starch. We now have available to us whole grain crackers such as Mary’s Gone Crackers, raw and vegan nut and fruit bars, no starch products and more!
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You may watch the entire segment on Dr Oz’s site:
The Gluten Diet: Just a Myth? Pt. 1
The Gluten Diet: Just a Myth? Pt. 2
The Gluten Diet: Just a Myth? Pt. 3