Not Allergic? Read This Before Going Gluten-Free

If you have a gluten allergy, sensitivity, or diagnosed Celiac disease, following a gluten-free diet makes sense.

If you're allergic or sensitive to gluten, exposure from food can take a toll on your health. There's the typical stomach discomfort for a lot of people. But sometimes the symptoms and side effects are even worse.

And if you have Celiac disease, even a small exposure to gluten can permanently damage the intestines, interfere with digestion and absorption, and become life-threatening. These are a few good reasons to follow a gluten-free diet.

But what if you're not allergic or sensitive to gluten? What if you're thinking about going gluten-free because it's a popular diet trend that appears to be healthy? You're not alone. Do a simple Google search, and you'll find an estimated 5 million results for "gluten-free."

But if you're not allergic, don't swear off whole-grain bread, oatmeal, pasta, or cereal just yet. If you're not sensitive to gluten in any way, leaving it out of your diet might be a mistake.

If you're not allergic:

"We actually think that a gluten-free diet is not a very healthy diet," says Dr. Peter Green, the director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. "And that's for a whole bunch of reasons. On a gluten-free diet, individuals have to avoid wheat, rye, and barley, and anything that's derived from them."

Obviously, people with a gluten sensitivity, allergy, or Celiac disease should avoid foods that contain gluten. But if you're not allergic, going gluten free can actually lead to deficiencies in iron, and folate, and even increased levels of metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury.

Green says many whole-grain foods made with gluten are fortified with folic acid, B vitamins, and iron. And you'll miss out on those nutrients if you're gluten free. And eating more rice, a common practice on a gluten-free diet, may actually cause your body to absorb more heavy metals.

Going gluten-free isn't for everybody. But if you do want to limit the amount of gluten in your diet, we've made it easy by creating a selection of Gluten-Free meals all made with fresh ingredients by our team of professional chefs. Bon app├ętit!