Have you ever heard of the gluten myth? Gluten-free myths I’ve heard plenty about, but the gluten myth is a new one for me. Recently, on the TV show Dr. Oz, almost half the air time was taken up by the good doctor busting the gluten myth. While some of the information shared in the two segments about ‘the gluten myth’ was correct, some of it was either incorrect or outdated. It also seemed like a spot the National Wheat Association would sponsor.
Dr. Oz mentioned that the grocery store shelves are lined with gluten-free products. That’s a bit of a stretch, but there are plenty of gluten-free products to choose from now – maybe five times as many as there were five years ago. The doctor went on to say that gluten-free foods were making people gain weight. Again, that’s true for many of us (myself included) who sometimes overload on gluten-free replacement foods like cookies, crackers, muffins, breads, etc.
The guest doctor, Mark Hyman, MD, agreed with much of what Dr. Oz was saying about how people with no problems with gluten should not be on the gluten-free diet. They spoke about how gluten-free foods were two to three times more costly than the foods they are meant to replace. There is no arguing that fact, at least.
Eventually, both doctors moved over to a table with food on it and they showed gluten-free and gluten versions of things like crackers, waffles and English muffins. Each item had the calories listed and of course, all the gluten-free items had a good amount more calories than the gluten items. Comments about how much fiber was in some of the items were also noted, and again, the gluten-free items fell short compared to the gluten-filled version.
The conclusion seemed to be that no one should be on the gluten-free diet unless they had issues with gluten and that’s likely true. Dr. Oz mentioned that many people who can’t tolerate gluten don’t know they have any problems with it. The guest doctor went on to explain that to find out if one has issues with gluten, they should try the gluten-free diet to see if they feel differently off of gluten. That’s pretty bad advice, according to pretty much celiac expert in the world. If someone wants to be tested for celiac, they need to be eating a normal diet.
Dr. Oz went so far as to say he was upset that people were being led to believe the gluten-free diet could be used as a weight loss tool when there are statistics (according to him) that 80% of people with celiac gain weight on the gluten-free diet. He didn’t mention the fact that many of those people are underweight to begin with due to them having untreated celiac and not absorbing the foods they eat. That was kind of an important fact to leave out of the segment, I think.
While we are all interested in getting more publicity so that people suffering needlessly will get tested and hopefully helped, more bad information being spread is the last thing we need. Most of the companies that make gluten-free products do so because someone in the company can’t eat gluten – not to push food on unsuspecting people who don’t require such foods as Dr. Oz would have us believe is the case. As we all know, most of the large food companies in the U.S. are not necessarily jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon – probably because many of them hired marketing consultants who insist the gluten-free fad it about to fade away. That is definitely a myth that needs busting!
In the end, though quite a bit of the information shared was correct, the parts that were not only add confusion to an already confusing topic. For instance, during the segment, one of the doctors mentioned that there is gluten in the glue on envelopes. And that is what you call a gluten myth. I’m not sure I understand yet, exactly what the gluten myth is, but my guess is that now that it’s been on a popular show like Dr. Oz, we’ll all be hearing much more about it in the near future.
*If you missed the show, you can watch most of it here.