Why eating gluten free is good, but gluten-free products could be bad
A U.S. cardiologist credited with sparking the "gluten-free" movement says while a gluten-free diet yields plenty of health benefits, eating certain gluten-free foods is not necessarily a healthier option.
"Being gluten-free is a good thing, but eating gluten-free processed foods is not a good thing," says Dr. William Davis, author of the best-selling book Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health.
While the variety of gluten-free products has been on a steady incline for the last couple of years, those foods often substitute wheat with cornstarch, potato starch or rice flour.
"We don't want to replace one problem with other problems," Davis told CTV Canada AM on Wednesday. "Foods that raise your blood sugar sky-high, make your tummy grow, give you hyper-tension, dementia, cancer and heart disease.”
In his book, Davis says the consumption of "genetically altered" modern wheat is the cause of rising obesity rates and a myriad of other diseases, including celiac, diabetes, heart disease, ADHD and even schizophrenia.
He says throughout time, wheat breeding has created changes in the structure of gluten – a protein found in foods processed from wheat.
It is estimated that 1 in 133 people in Canada are affected by celiac disease -- an autoimmune condition in which the small intestine is unable to properly digest gluten, making it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients.
About six per cent of Canadians are also estimated to suffer from gluten sensitivity.
But Davis says even without a dietary need, a wheat-free diet is a healthier choice.
The gluten aside, Davis says other proteins in wheat can stimulate appetite and cause changes to the gastrointestinal tract.
Meanwhile, Wheat Belly has remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for two years.
Davis said the book's success signifies that going wheat-free is no longer a fad.
"We're witnessing health transformation," he said.