Health experts weigh in on benefits, risks of gluten-free diets - WKRN News 2

Health experts weigh in on benefits, risks of gluten-free diets


The Gluten-free diet is becoming more popular than ever.

In the last 10 years, gluten-free items have become a household term and item found in many homes.

According to a recent poll, nearly one third of adults said they wanted to cut down on gluten or have a gluten-free diet.

News 2 spoke with a health educator to learn more about the real health benefits and risks of the diet that means avoiding foods made with wheat, barley or rye.

"There is this huge craze now that you see in everything from restaurants to products that you buy in the grocery store that claims to be gluten-free," explained Vanderbilt University Medical Center health educator Stacey Kendrick.

Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham have been linked to the gluten-free diet lifestyles which is said to contribute to increased energy, thinner thighs and weight loss.

Kendrick said as with any diet or health regime, education is key.

"A lot of people are really struggling with all of the nutrition messages that they hear out there," she said.

According to Kendrick, only about one percent of Americans have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

"If they eat anything with gluten, it makes them very sick," she explained. "Also they cannot absorb nutrients into their body, so it become a very serious health condition."

Health experts, however, have said there is no evidence a gluten-free diet has any health benefits for those who do not suffer from gluten sensitivity.

Kendrick told News 2 eliminating gluten from your diet can actually cause some negative health effects.

"The reason is because there are many important nutrients and vitamins in products that contain gluten," she said.

Kendrick urges that anyone considering a diet change to check with their health care provider before making any drastic changes.

Last year, sales of gluten-free products hit $4.2 billion. That number is expected to reach more than $6 billion in the next five years.

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