The stress of having to give up gluten is often eased by the wide variety and ready availability of many gluten-free foods, including breads, crackers, cookies, and pasta. However, we often get questions about how well-suited for a healthy diet these foods really are. “Has anyone else had problems with gluten-free mixes?” or “Why do I feel like I’m still eating gluten?” are common concerns. We address gluten-free and other processed foods in our FAQ as follows:
“They’re better than breads and cookies that contain gluten by the mere fact that they don’t contain gluten. But that doesn’t make them ‘okay’ and it certainly doesn’t make them ‘healthy’. Processed foods are low-nutrient while being high in sugar, carbs, bad fats, preservatives, and who knows what else. Even “whole food supplements” like Vega are not as nutritious as their actual whole food counterparts and often contain ingredients many people are sensitive to. A home-cooked meal will do you more good than anything out of a box or can any day, even if its as simple as throwing together a salad or quick stir-fry. When grocery shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store, focusing on non-nightshade produce and meats.”
I would like to add this excellent passage from the highly-recommended “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis:
“Many gluten-free foods are made by replacing wheat flour with cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, or tapioca starch…. This is especially hazardous for anybody looking to drop… pounds, since gluten-free foods, though they do not trigger the immune or neurological response of wheat gluten, still trigger the glucose-insulin response that causes you to gain weight. Wheat products increase blood sugar and insulin more than most other foods. But remember: Foods made with [starch] are among the few foods that increase blood sugar even more than wheat products. So gluten-free foods are not problem-free. Gluten-free foods are the likely explanation for the overweight celiac sufferers who eliminate wheat and fail to lose weight. In my view, there’s no role for gluten-free foods beyond the occasional indulgence, since the metabolic effects of these foods is little different from eating a bowl of jelly beans. Thus, wheat elimination is not just about eliminating gluten…. You don’t want to replace wheat… with the rapidly absorbed carbohydrates of [starches]…. Avoid gluten-free foods if you are gluten-free.”
Beyond hindering the loss of weight and increasing blood sugar, the ingredients in gluten-free foods (which often include sugars, dairy, eggs, soy, and preservatives in addition to gluten-free grains and starches) can contribute to digestive upset, brain fog, neuropathy, headaches, goiter, asthma and allergies, hives, and other autoimmune symptoms. These foods are not approved for the kind of anti-inflammatory diet we feel offers the best chance of recovery for autoimmune patients.