Three years ago, Amy Tecowsky suffered from so much joint pain she could hardly move. Without exercise, she quickly started packing on the pounds. "I just didn't feel good and I couldn't do things and I just feel sorry for people in chronic pain," says Tecowsky. She then went gluten-free and says her pain subsided and she lost over 50 pounds.
Gluten is a special type of protein found in grains but it's incorporated in everything from ketchup to candy. People with a condition called Celiac Disease cannot diget gluten. But what about everyone else?
Cleveland Clinic nutritionist, Lillian Craggs Dino says gluten is actually a good plant-based protein that can provide vital nutrients, especially for vegetarians. "If they're just getting rid of gluten and don't know what to replace, then they're cutting out a whole food group that could lead to vitamin deficiencies," says Dino.
But, Dr. David Blyweiss, the Director of Functional Medicine at Sanctuary Medical Center, believes going gluten-free can improve overall health and facilitate weight loss. "Gluten is triggering a high blood sugar. It's crossing the brain barrier creating glutio morphine - the operative word there being morphine - so when you don't eat it, you have a craving to eat it again," says Blyweiss.
If weight loss is your key goal, experts warn you to be careful when choosing products that claim to be gluten-free. "Some of the gluten-free products actually have higher sugars or fats to make the product more palatable," says Dino.
Proponents of going gluten-free argue that over the years, grains have been genetically modified, making them difficult to digest. Nutritionists say a solution to that is to eat only organically grown gains.
Always talk to your doctor regarding any change to your diet to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs.