Gluten Free Diets Do They Help With Weight Loss?


By Dr. Peter Osborne

Many people today are going on gluten free diets. You can find extensive gluten free sections in Kroger, HEB and Whole Foods. Gluten has been in the national spotlight receiving recognition on Discovery Health, CNN’s Larry King, Oprah and more.

So What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in the following grains: wheat, barley, rye and oats. It is also found in processed foods derived from wheat, barley, rye and oats. Breads, cereals and pastas are rich in gluten. Other foods and/or food additives can be derived from gluten containing grains. Examples include soy sauce, gravies, soups, whiskey and modified food starch. Traditional medical thought is that the protein gluten interacts with some people’s immune systems causing an autoimmune reaction, which damages the intestine. However, newer research identifies that the protein gluten is only part of the problem. Some scientists argue that many grains – including corn –  can create similar reactions.

What is gluten sensitivity?

It depends on who you ask. Many people use the term gluten sensitivity interchangeably with celiac disease, an autoimmune intestinal disorder. Some call gluten sensitivity a food allergy or intolerance. Both are correct to some degree. Gluten sensitivity causes celiac disease, but not all people with gluten sensitivity develop celiac disease. This is where the problem in traditional diagnosis can occur. The only way to confirm whether or not a person has celiac disease is to perform an intestinal biopsy. If the results reveal villous atrophy (flattening of the intestinal folds), then celiac disease is diagnosed. If the results are negative, then both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity may be dismissed. Newer research shows that gluten sensitivity exists independently without causing celiac disease. There are more than 190 different disease conditions, syndromes and symptoms that have been linked to gluten sensitivity in scientific studies. Some common conditions include thyroid disorders, seizure disorders, migraine, bone loss and irritable bowel syndrome.

Diagnosing Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease 

The proper tools must be used to accurately diagnose gluten sensitivity. Relying solely on a biopsy can delay a diagnosis for several years. I have personally seen cases of celiac disease where up to eight  biopsies were performed before a diagnosis was made. Genetic testing offers the greatest degree of accuracy and when combined with a patient’s history and examination a diagnosis can be made early and accurately. However, the greatest tool is patient improvement. If a person starts to feel better on a gluten free diet, it doesn’t matter what blood tests or biopsies reveal. The proverbial proof is in the pudding.

Gluten Free Diet for Weight Loss

The gluten free diet is being used by thousands as a weight loss aid. Unfortunately, many in the medical profession are falsely proclaiming that gluten free diets for weight loss are dangerous and can lead to nutrition deficits. All untrue.

A gluten free diet can be very helpful for weight loss. Think about it. If we want to fatten up cows, pigs, chickens or other farm animals, what do we feed them? Grain. Look at the obesity trend in the U.S. It is most definitely on the rise. This increase parallels an increase in grain based foods in being used as staple foods in the U.S. Diet.

A common day of eating for most Americans is grain loaded:

Breakfast – Cereal (with milk from animals fed grain), bagels, toast, donuts, granola bars, etc.

Lunch and Dinner – Sandwich, pizza, spaghetti or pasta, rolls, rice and corn.

Dessert – Cake, cookies and ice cream.

Are you fat or overweight?

Excessive grain causes obesity in animals and in humans. Excessive grain causes inflammation and contributes to a host of different chronic degenerative diseases. Do you fit these categories? If so, it is time to look at gluten as a potential culprit. All that being said, can a gluten free diet be used to lose weight? Absolutely!

Gluten Free Expo is Coming…

Want to learn more about gluten? Join us on March 10th for the Glutenology Houston Gluten Free Expo. We will have experts in gluten sensitivity, food, cooking lessons and more. For more information, visit www.HoustonGlutenFreeExpo.com. Visit www.GlutenFreeSociety.org to learn more.