Ag Center reports concerns about gluten-free diets
BATON ROUGE - Going "gluten-free"? Your diet may not be as healthy as you think, according to recent research at LSU.
LSU AgCenter registered dietician Denise Holston-West said gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. People with a condition called celiac disease have a toxic immune response when they ingest gluten, and have to maintain gluten-free diets.
"I think a lot of people may think that gluten-free means healthy," Holston-West said. "But if you don't have celiac disease and you go gluten-free, you are putting yourself at risk for nutrition deficiencies."
Holston-West said foregoing whole grains can lead to deficiencies of folate, iron and B-vitamins that the body needs. She recommends people with celiac disease get with a registered dietitian and come up with a diet that includes supplements to replace the nutrients they are missing.
Holston-West said that while there may be some people who don't have the disease and are sensitive gluten, there isn't much research in this area. She said gluten-free products can cost about twice as much as regular grain products as well, so non-celiac shoppers may be paying extra for less nutritional value.
Holston-West said moderation is key to a healthy diet, and that all groups of people benefit from eating a wide variety of foods.