risks of gluten-free diet

Five Risks of a Gluten-Free Diet You Should Know About

Health care experts once thought gluten was associated only with celiac disease and wheat allergies. In recent years, gluten or wheat sensitivity has been recognized as a problem linked to the gluten in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten-free diets have become very popular. However, there are health risks that come with excluding gluten from your menu just for the sake of avoiding it. In addition, less than 2 percent of the population have some form of gluten intolerance. Unless you are among this minority, eliminating gluten from your diet is probably a bad idea for the following reasons:

Gastrointestinal Health Risks

Proper gastrointestinal function is less likely with a gluten-free diet. Some elements in foods containing gluten act much like probiotics. That is, they nourish “good” gut flora. This helps lower the risk of infection by discouraging the growth of bacteria that may be harmful.

Reduced Immune System Strength

Lack of gluten in your diet may decrease the effectiveness of your immune system. Studies link high levels of gluten to more active “killer” T-cells. This is important because active killer cells mean your body is better able to fight viral infections and cancer.

Increased Risk of Chronic Conditions

Whole grains are linked to positive health benefits. If you adopt a gluten-free diet, you lose these benefits. This means you may be at increased risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes.

Masking Celiac Symptoms

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder. Health care professionals normally diagnose celiac disease by examining inflamed tissue. When you follow a gluten-free diet, the inflammation is eliminated or reduced. However, doctors may not be able to detect celiac disease and provided needed treatment. You may need to reintroduce gluten to your diet in order to receive a proper diagnosis.

Increased Exposure to Toxins

Recent research suggests that people who eliminate gluten from their diets are likely to have increased levels of highly toxic substances like arsenic and mercury in their bodies. A study by the University of Illinois at Chicago found 70 percent more arsenic in subjects following a gluten-free diet. Rice and other foods used as substitutes for wheat often have greater exposure to these toxins. This is important because arsenic and mercury are linked to cancer and neurological diseases.


Following a healthy diet is a good thing. However, there is no evidence of health benefits stemming from a gluten-free diet unless you have gluten sensitivity or a similar problem. You may as well enjoy wheat bread from companies like Klosterman Baking Company; if you’re curious about how your own body reacts with gluten, however, the smart thing to do is see your doctor if you think gluten may be a problem.

Dixie Somers

View posts by Dixie Somers
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

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