CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

Gwyneth Paltrow, Kim Kardashian, and Victoria Beckham – super stars who've gone gluten-free to peel away pounds and feel great, and they're not the only ones. A recent poll shows 30% of Americans want to cut down on it or eliminate gluten from their diets, but health educator Stacey Kendrick says not so fast.

“There’s a lot of hype about taking gluten out of your diet,” said health educator Stacey Kendrick from Vanderbilt University.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Kendrick says the whole grains are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Stripping away gluten could mean a deficiency in one of these areas.

“Anytime you eliminate something from your diet, it can cause health problems,” explained Kendrick.

Despite weight loss claims, going gluten-free could actually make you fat. Registered Dietitian Amanda Holliday is with the University of North Carolina.  She says products labeled gluten-free can be highly processed and loaded with sugar and fat.

“I think the real trick is what you replace those calories with,” said Holliday. “There are so many grains that are gluten-free. There are more grains that are gluten-free than have gluten. It's just the typical American diet doesn’t know about them.”

Holliday says quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are all good choices.

Experts say the real reason so many people probably lose weight on a gluten-free diet isn't because they're eliminating gluten. It's because they end up cutting out processed foods and nix the desserts, junk food, and wheat heavy beer. That can all lead to losing weight.

Additional Information:

Celiac Disease: A person with celiac disease cannot eat gluten because it triggers an immune response in the small intestine which causes inflammation and eventually damages the intestine’s lining as well as block some nutrients from being absorbed. If celiac disease goes untreated it can lead to malnutrition and stunted growth in children, loss of calcium and bone density, infertility and miscarriage, and several kinds of cancer. (Source:mayoclinic.com)  

Signs of Celiac Disease: People with celiac disease can go undiagnosed for years because most people with the disease have very mild or no symptoms. Some common signs that a person may have celiac disease are:

  • Frequent Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Itchy Skin Rash
  • Anemia
  • Reduced Spleen Function
  • Fatigue

(Source: mayoclinic.com)