Anymore the grocery store is a place that provides a vast array of products for your every need. Need low sodium food for hypertension? Or, low fat food for pancreatitis? What about gluten free foods for Celiac Disease?
“Gluten free” not only is necessary for those who are diagnosed with Celiac Disease but has also become a “buzz” word for fad diets.
Gluten = a protein found in wheat and related grains (barley and rye) that gives elasticity to dough.
Experts estimate that only about 1% of Americans have Celiac Disease. Yet, “gluten free” products are flying off grocery store shelves with 30% of American’s following a “gluten free” diet due to its perception that it is healthier or can aid in weight loss.
Due to “gluten free“ diets being the fastest growing health trend in the United States, research was conducted to see if the same popularity, beliefs and experience with “gluten free” diets occurred in non-celiac athletes.
- <40% of non-celiac endurance athletes may be following “gluten free” diets at least half the time
- Most athletes who follow a “gluten free” diet are self diagnosed
- Athletes believe removing gluten from the diet helps to reduce gastrointestinal distress and inflammation
- Removal of gluten will help in athletic performance
- Out of all athletes who follow a “gluten free” diet, endurance based athletes are of the largest cohort.
These beliefs about the removal of gluten are unconfirmed, health and performance benefits. Rather, athletes who do not have medically diagnosed wheat allergies or Celiac Disease should not avoid gluten. Avoidance of gluten restrictors a range of grain-based foods, have the potential to cause nutrient deficiencies (B vitamins, fiber, and iron), and compromise the gut health by reducing beneficial gut bacteria.
However, if gluten has been taken out of the diet, add it back slowly for the body to adjust appropriately and continue to consume greater amounts of fruits and vegetables if those foods were previously increased. Also note, if athletes are traveling to other countries, “gluten free” foods may not be available for purchase, are of greater cost, and may make it difficult when it comes to dinning out in social situations.