Gluten-free products may put your health at risk
Many healthy and figure-conscious people renounce without intestinal symptoms as a precaution to gluten. But that can even bring disadvantages.”Is there gluten in there?” Waiter are used to this question. For renouncing the discredited gluten of white wheat, which is also found in most other cereals, is the trend for years.
There are many reasons for this: In people with congenital gluten intolerance ( celiac disease ), the protein triggers a small intestinal inflammation with sometimes severe intestinal complaints. Anemia, flatulence or osteoporosis can also be the consequences. Some other people suffer from wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity.
However, gluten-free diets are not beneficial for heart health, a new US study published in the British Medical Journal now reveals. Perhaps the omission of gluten is even unfavorable: because with the gluten many reduce their consumption of whole grains, which seems to protect the heart.
“Based on our data, a gluten-free diet is not recommended for heart health only,” says gastroenterologist and co-author Andrew Chan of the Harvard School of Medicine.
Together with Benjamin Lebwohl from the Columbia University (New York) Celiac Center and colleagues, he has evaluated material from two US long-term studies: from 1986 to 2010, a diverse diet and health data from 110,000 Americans was collected every four years.
Depending on the gluten consumption, the researchers divided the participants into five groups. “Even in the group with the lowest gluten consumption, there were the same rates of coronary heart disease as in the highest consuming group,” Chan says.
Gluten-free diet not healthy for everyone
“Gluten is of course detrimental to people with celiac disease, but popular diet books that work with random and anecdotal examples have fueled the view that a gluten-free diet is healthy for everyone,” says Lebwohl. However, those who do not use whole grains run the risk of losing their protective effects against heart disease at the same time .
Martin Raithel (Waldkrankenhaus Erlangen), member of the German Society for Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) and the German Society of Allergology (DGAKI), sees the same. “Especially B vitamins can protect the heart,” he says. Whole-grain fiber is also an important constituent of the intestinal flora, regulates intestinal activity and allows blood sugar levels to increase more slowly. Anyone who shuns grain for no reason should at the same time provide the body with important polyamines, such as wheat germ oil, according to the expert.
With regard to heart health, the study does not establish a causal relationship, but overall it is very detailed and meaningful over this long period of time, says Raithel.
Two to three percent of Germans are affected
According to him, about two to three percent of people in Germany have celiac disease. Another one percent suffer from wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity. “The numbers of wheat or gluten sensitivity are generally overestimated in public and in the media, but the problem is that the individual causes are not always adequately diagnosed.”
To get clarity, experts recommend not to seek help with self-tests from the Internet or the naturopaths with persistent intestinal complaints, but to be diagnosed with the doctor.
For children, a gluten-free diet is dangerous
Including children in the family in the gluten-free diet is not only restrictive for the offspring, but even dangerous, Raithel warns. “Children should really eat something from everything, including meat and small amounts of sugar,” says the intestinal expert. “Because every restriction of food reduces the diversity of the intestinal flora, which in turn is a risk factor for the development of many diseases.”
Raithel can not yet determine a decline in the gluten-free trend. “This is probably also due to the fact that often reports on animal experiments in which gluten has harmful effects.” Many are thereby over-sensitized. But results from animal experiments are not easy to transfer. “The human body in many cases is more complex.”
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