PEOPLE who follow a gluten free diet because they think it is healthier could be doing more harm than good, a University of Newcastle scientist says.
Dr Emma Beckett, a molecular nutritionist, said the latest research was showing gluten free diets were becoming more and more popular.
"But only a minority of people who are choosing the gluten free diets - just 3 per cent - are actually choosing them because of a diagnosis of a condition like ceoliac disease," Dr Beckett said.
"Most people who are choosing gluten free diets are choosing them because they think they are healthier, or they think it will help them lose weight.
"It's a common theme we see in nutrition where, because one particular aspect of nutrition is not ideal for a particular group of people - like those with gluten intolerance or coeliac disease - we extend that into it meaning that it's not good for all of us. But without an actual diagnosis of ceoliac disease, you're probably not making healthier choices by choosing to eat gluten free, and you could in fact be doing yourself harm by missing out on some important nutrients - particularly the fibre."
IN THE NEWS:
Most people were not eating enough fibre already, but it was important for gut health.
"An appropriate gut bacteria balance and a healthy gut is really important for reducing your risk of other diseases - inflammatory diseases, mental health conditions, and asthma, for example," she said. "Dietary fibre doesn't sound very sexy, but there is a lot of great products and great foods you can eat to boost your fibre content, and that can actually help with the symptoms that people are self-diagnosing when they think they need to be going gluten free. It is potentially an imbalance of gut bacteria, and by slowly boosting your fibre intake with whole grain breads and high fibre cereals, over time, that can help start getting that gut bacteria health back to where it needs to be."
Dr Beckett said some gluten free products were less healthy, as they required more fat to help hold the product together. But while people were "perfectly able" to eat a gluten free diet if they wanted to, she would like to see more products with more fibre on the market.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: