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Why does the media always try to scare people away from a gluten free diet?

In this news report, a registered dietitian warns of mythical negative consequences on a gluten free diet. She warns of fiber and b-vitamin deficiency when eliminating grain from the diet. For the sake of being objective, please share your story if going gluten free caused you harm is some way… Want more information about gluten? Join our free weekly newsletter here…

11 Responses

  1. Personally, I haven’t had any sort of deficiencies since I went GF about a year ago. Before it, and for nearly 28 years of my life, I had horrible swelling, cystic legions, high triglycerides levels and depression.

    After going GF my conditions have since been alleviated. I dropped 35lbs and feel so much more alive! I do take daily vitamins, but I’ve always done that. Perhaps a little more research is needed to find deficiency problems, but so far it’s been great. She mentioned that you lose out on whole grains.

    I found that corn, brown rice and oats are considered a whole grain. ( All of which I do include in my diet. Oats can be cross contaminated, but you can find non-contaminated oats if you know where to look. So, to the dietician, how am I not including whole grains in my diet if these are apparently available to me? Great report!

    – Nida Sea

  2. With a little thought and planning, going gluten free can be the most liberating transformation one can do to his or her body. First, figure out what are the main substances that you will be missing by giving up Wheat, Rye, and Barley. Then, replace it with gluten free choices. What’s the big deal? Per Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.; one would feel better on a gluten free diet only if one is somewhat gluten intolerant or have Celiac Disease. You can find more information on Dr. Weil’s web site ( I find Dr. Weil to be very realistic and accurate.

  3. I am the dietitian in the interview, and I can assure you that what I know about gluten, and all the points I was trying to make were not all covered. I personally eat a diet of mostly whole foods, and my grains tend to include brown rice, corn, oats and wheat. I obviously do have gluten in my diet, but it doesn’t affect me negatively. One of the points I mentioned (that did not come out) was that gluten does not have to be avoided by anyone that doesn’t have an intolerance or allergy to it. As the above Sigal Dramen says: “First, figure out what are the main substances that you will be missing by giving up Wheat, Rye, and Barley. Then, replace it with gluten free choices.” I fully agree, but as well, if a person feels absolutely fine…there isn’t necessarily a reason to go gluten-free.
    I’m neither for, nor against gluten. If a person that doesn’t eat hardly any fruits, vegetables, or nuts and seeds cuts out ALL gluten (without researching and replacing with adequate substitutes), it is a possibility that that person can experience nutrient deficiencies. It’s an unfortunate truth that many kids/adults today get more vitamins and minerals from one bowl of fortified cereal with milk, than any other meal they may eat the entire day. If gluten-free cereals, pastas, and breads fortified with vitamins and minerals are stocked on the grocery shelves (and cost less than their gluten-containing counterparts), I’m sure many more people would gladly become gluten-free. Intolerant, allergic, or neither.

    1. Raquel,
      Thank you for posting. I realize that the news story was clipped to fit air time requirements and that their was probably more left unsaid than said. Our goal at Gluten Free Society is to point out inconsistencies when we find them to prevent public confusion on the topic. So please don’t take the commentary personally.

      You said – “if a person feels absolutely fine…there isn’t necessarily a reason to go gluten-free”
      This statement is untrue. The vast majority of missed diagnosis occurs in latent or “silent” cases. Symptoms are not a solid indicator for whether or not a person reacts to gluten. Research continues to support an average diagnosis time to be about the age of 40-45.

      Grain is not necessary to maintain nutritional adequacy in the diet. Going gluten free/grain free poses no risk for the development of nutritional deficiency. Humans evolved on a grain free diet for more than a million years. Grain is relatively new to our food genome. Additionally, replacing bread, past, cereal, etc with “gluten free substitutes” is not a healthy alternative, and defeats the purpose of going gluten free in the first place. I would encourage you to watch the following video on this matter as it is not taught in traditional nutritional school programs.
      Thanks for posting. We welcome all comments!
      In good health,
      Dr. Osborne

  4. I agree with you completely Dr. Osborne.

    And also, being gluten-free doesn’t mean you’ll lose weight. I gained weight, healthy weight that I didn’t have when I was not gluten-free(grain-free).

  5. I don’t see how the first reply by Nida is accurate. How is she GF if she still eats oats? Also, I think more research that is peer reviewed needs to be done on GF diets for it to be more widely accepted. Also, if you are not trying to slam dietitians then you should change the title of this segment on your web site. It’s very inflammatory. Additionally, where does the money go that people donate on this website? Who are the researchers? I do believe less or no grains is healthier but in this day and age I just don’t see it as practical for most people. The clients I primarily saw in clinic (I am a dietitian) worked more than 40 hours per week and commuted two hours per day and their kids would never eat foods such as veggie sticks and hummus for lunch. In fact most kids at the junior high and high school level won’t even bring a sack lunch to school. What do you recommend for them? You also recommend organic foods. How can we believe the USDA really checks these farms and ensures they are completely organic. Plus the cost is just not financially feasible for most families.

  6. Hello again Dr. Osborne, and hello to fellow registered dietitian Veronica. (It was nice to read a supportive comment).

    I do agree that many people are walking around with no clue they are gluten intolerant or allergic, and I do support the idea of more frequent blood and/or biopsy testing in order to identify and treat these issues much earlier in life. What you may not understand is that as a dietitian, I am often asked “Will a gluten-free diet make me lose weight?” I see all these gluten-free items on the shelf; should I be eating them?” When I get these questions, my job is to educate them. In an ideal world, people wouldn’t be eating processed, sugar and salt-laden, shelf-stable foods. I have to face reality though, and try to help people “better” their diets knowing not all will completely change from one day to the next. I know that grains are not necessary to maintain nutritional adequacy in the diet, but I also know that changing a person’s habits can be very difficult. How many smokers are out there? How many people are obese? How many people have high blood pressure? How many people are eating 3-5 servings of fruit and 5-7 servings of vegetables every day? I have to look at the big picture before focusing on specifics. Everything has to be seen in context to the situation. If someone can’t give up their sandwich bread or birthday cakes (much as a smoker can’t give up cigarettes), then substitutes do have a place on the shelf. Would I prefer the individual give up all those processed foods to begin with? Of course! My point in the report was simply to note that if someone is following a relatively highly processed diet with lots of fast food and very little fruits and vegetables (as MANY Americans are)…removal of all foods containing gluten should be done mindfully. Research and/or education on how to eat a nutritious diet that excludes grains would be recommended. Again, it is sad but true, that many vitamins and minerals that many people receive today are from the fortified grain products on the shelves. I do join you however, in acknowledging the importance of educating clients/patients, and of urging/motivating people to eat better for healthier lives.

    I also wanted to mention that as a professional that values my knowledge and credibility as a dietitian, if/when I come across negative comments made in reply to incomplete statements I’ve made…I will make any attempt to clarify them. A registered dietitian is a food and nutrition expert. We complete, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in dietetics that includes coursework that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE), the credentialing body of the American Dietetic Association. Upon completion of a bachelor’s or master’s degree, we must apply for and be accepted in to a very competitive and grueling Dietetic Internship Program that requires a minimum of 1200 hours of supervised practice in all areas of nutrition. After that, we must take and pass the Registration Examination for Registered Dietitians, and receive and document continuing education credits to maintain registered dietitian (RD) status. As well, many states also require licensure. Licensure laws protect the public from unqualified individuals that may be portraying themselves to be nutrition experts. Anyone that needs information or education regarding nutrition can count on a registered and licensed dietitian. Thanks!
    Raquel Mendiola RD/LD

  7. I agree if someone avoids gluten and is still eating processed foods whether or not those processed foods are gluten free is still going to be eating an unhealthy diet. Even if you eat vegetables eating processed foods is like eating poison so it kinda defeats the purpose of eating other “good” foods(vegies, fruit) in a way.

    Aspartame, MSG and it’s “hidden names”, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup all plague processed whether gluten free or not. MSG and aspartame are especially something to avoid as they are toxic to the brain and cause just as many problems as gluten. They also cause you to eat more, as does sugar. So it’s harder for people to lose weight if they eat MSG laden foods. They simply have no chance. MSG is a drug for the tongue and brain and even the act of eating MSG causes weight gain.

    If I was a dietitian I’d be busting my ass to get people to avoid processed foods altogether. We’ve become so removed from our natural ways of hunter/gatherer people can’t even get off their ass to make a real meal with fresh WHOLE FOODS. Whole grains are not necessary, as Dr. Osbourne said they are new to the human diet and there wasn’t any documentation of “diarrhea” until gluten was introduced in the diet. No animals on earth eat Grains naturally only humans have made the mistake of trying to plant it.

    Even grains like corn are now unhealthy and keep in mind wheat is not the same as it was when humans first ate it. It had far less gluten so it can be assumed that there was less damage to those people in those times. Corn and wheat no longer grow on their own, do we want to eat something that was modified and doesn’t grow anymore? Corn has little nutritional value too.

    It’s better to just eat lean non GMO meat, vegetables, nuts, and fruit since that is diet humans have been eating the longest.

    The indiginous hunters and gatherers around the world that live in jungles ect. don’t get cancer and all the health problems people get in western countries because they don’t eat grains or processed foods.

  8. I assure you that dietitians do bust their butts trying to emphasize the importance of eating whole foods but until you work in the field, daily for a decade or more will you understand the complete lack of knowledge most people have about nutrition and even the basic food groups.

    Part of the reason why young children are predicted to not have a life expectancy as long as their parents is because they have not been taught in their own home how to eat healthy. Schools are just not able to teach children everything. These basic concepts have to be reinforced within the home environment.

    Most of my clients (I am a registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator) are business professionals and even they do not know the importance of basic food groups, why processed foods are not healthy and how to consistently change their diet on a daily basis. They also do not like to cook and have enough money to dine out daily and are therefore not willing to learn to cook.

    Additionally, another problem is the number of unlicensed “nutrition” professionals that popularize some scientific facts found in a research article without explaining the full scope of the research. Anyone can conduct a study but until it is a double-blind, placebo controlled, peer-reviewed study that has been repeatedly tested it can not be promoted as fact. A study of 20 people or a study based on cases and not undergoing rigorous scientific analysis should not be considered fact nor promoted. Unfortunately, most commonly held beliefs about nutrition and health were not thoroughly tested and they eventually became popularized by the media and other non-licensed nutrition professionals. Therefore, be sure that you actually get accurate information from a licensed healthcare professional and not someone who took an online test and now claims they are an expert.

    Also, keep eating those whole foods.


  9. Some good points Veronica. Parents should definitely play a larger role in educating children about good nutrition.

    I would have to disagree about double blind controlled studies. Dr. Abram Hoffer, the creator of this type of study never intended it to be used as a gold standard.
    No study is. There are too many variables to account for. People are too different. As individuals, it is more important in medicine to personalize treatments per the individual. Studies done on twenty people are just as valuable as studies done on 1 or 1,000. The proof is in the pudding.
    All the best,
    Dr. O

  10. Raquel,
    Please be more careful about generalizations. You may be doing many people a great disservice. One can “feel absolutely fine” and still have a big problem with gluten. Nearly 30% of those with celiac disease “feel fine” and in fact are called “silent” celiacs. The only reason I found mine is because I was diagnosed with osteopenia. My internet search found that osteopenia can be caused by celiac disease, which is inherited, which my mother has. Viola! My diagnosis, confirmed by biopsy.

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