With the increase popularity of gluten-free diets experts at Kansas State University say going gluten-free may be great for some, but just because a package says gluten-free does not necessarily mean the product is healthy.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. For many with celiac disease, a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine making it challenging, or impossible, absorb parts of foods needed to stay healthy. This disease is a digestive disorder activated by gluten products, so for those suffering from celiac disease it is imperative for them to lead a gluten-free diet.

Kathryn Deschenes, a Kansas State University master’s student in food and science, who suffers from celiac disease, explains that symptoms can range from nausea, diarrhea, acid reflux, depression and it may even stunt a child’s growth.

This new gluten-free era is great for those suffering from celiac disease because companies are providing more and more gluten-free products, but that does not necessarily mean gluten-free prodcts are the best choice for a healthy diet.

Mark Haub, an associate professor and interim head of Kansas State University’s department of human nutrition, stated gluten-free products more than likely contain as many calories as gluten products. Haub also points out for the average person gluten is not bad, mentioning that people have been consuming wheat, rye and barley products for years and without exhibiting any type of health issues, some even live to be as old as 100.  

Haub suggests that people do their research about gluten-free products if they are going to adopt a gluten-free diet.  If someone wants to add gluten-free products, varieties of vegetables and fruits, and also maintain portion control, then Haub believes this kind of gluten-free diet may have more health benefits.

Deschenes warns that a gluten-free diet is not per se a weight-loss program, just like any diet excluding certain food you will lack other important nutrients. Excluding gluten from your diet, one loses out on a satisfactory amount of fiber. The consumption of fiber has its benefits such as controlling diabetes, weight control, etc.