Warnings about a Gluten-free diet

Warnings about a Gluten-free diet. (WPEC)

Sales of gluten-free foods have nearly tripled in recent years. Here is why Consumer Reports says it could be doing more harm than good.

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, has been blamed for causing problems like migraines, depression, and joint pain based on limited scientific evidence. Strong evidence does link gluten to digestive problems but only in very specific cases.

Consumer Reports says avoiding gluten is warranted in certain cases, but it's not for the vast majority of those people who are not allergic to gluten.

"Less than 7% of Americans have celiac disease or another condition that causes gluten sensitivity which can lead to severe digestive issues," said Catherine Roberts, Consumer Reports Health Editor.

For the rest of the population, unnecessarily eliminating whole grains that contain gluten can also eliminate important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients which protect against cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

"Another downside: gluten-free foods often have added sugar, fat, and sodium to make them more palatable," says Roberts.

And if the gluten-free foods are made with rice flour, research shows you could end up ingesting large amounts of arsenic and mercury.

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