Gluten-free diet for the healthy population

Paul Moayyedi

One of the recent dietary fads popular among healthy people has been the gluten-free diet. Should we advise against it? Should patients receive a medical warning?

Paul Moayyedi: My own feeling is, we should strongly discourage that practice. The concept that it will be healthy is misplaced. There is nothing unhealthy about wheat in the diet, as long as it is a part of a balanced diet. And balance is the key here.

If you remove wheat from the diet, inevitably you probably are going to unbalance other aspects: you are going to take too much fat, you are going to take too much protein. These things are well shown to be unhealthy. If you have too much red meat in your diet, you are at an increased risk of colorectal cancer, amongst other things. Fat in the diet is well known to be unhealthy for all sorts of reasons. The other things that you are going to substitute carbohydrates – particularly wheat – with are often not that good for you.

In general, it is best to have a normal, balanced diet, if what you are aiming for is a healthy diet. So a Mediterranean diet is what you should aim for rather than a gluten-free diet.

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