Fit List: Experts say think twice before going gluten-free

Pizza.  Bread. Cookies.  For most of us, they're staples of our diet, but for two million Americans suffering with Celiac Disease, the carb heavyweights are a big no-no.

People with the disease can't process gluten, a protein found in bread-like products.
 
"It attacks the lining of the intestines, and it prevents any nutrients from crossing over," said Lucia Schnitzer, who owns Luci's Marketplace in Phoenix.
 
The health food store has been stocking its shelves with gluten-free products for years.  She says she's seeing more and more customers opt for a gluten-free lifestyle, even though they don't have to.
 
"Even from five years ago, gluten-free products aren't as tasty they are now.  They have really really improved the ingredients and helped tailored to those that really have a sophisticated palate," Schnitzer said.
 
So we wondered, is a gluten free diet really better for you?  Could it help you lose weight even?
 
Patti Milligan, a  registered dietician, cautions against the trend. 
 
"I see many people going gluten free and then piling up on a lot of gluten-free products and actually taking in more calories and gaining weight," she said.
 
"There's really no health benefits to being gluten free unless you have symptoms that are saying 'Oh boy I should be gluten free,' " Schnitzer said.
 
While the diet is no weight loss wonder, it's not all bad news.
 
"You may have better brain focus and you may feel less fatigued," Milligan said.  
 
If you decide you want to go gluten free, what's the best way to try it?
 
"Switch out to a grain called quinoa.  It's an ancient South American grain, and it has three times the amount of protein than any other grain," Milligan said.  "Look at cauliflower and sweet potatoes. You can do many things with those."
 
So, before you give up gluten for good, be sure it's the right option for you.
 

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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