Muscle for life

Why a Gluten-Free Diet Is Unnecessary and Even Unhealthy

Why a Gluten-Free Diet Is Unnecessary and Even Unhealthy

Don’t believe the hype: the gluten-free diet is not only unnecessary for just about all of us, but can actually be unhealthy.


The gluten-free diet is one of the hottest trends right now, and it’s growing into a pretty impressive money-making machine.

In fact, thanks to a perfect storm of mainstream anti-carbohydrate and anti-wheat propaganda and adoration of the Paleo diet, gluten-free dieting seems to be on its way to becoming the next major blockbuster hit.

But when you can buy gluten-free cupcakes, cookies, and even beer, and when just about every mainstream health and fitness magazine is telling us to avoid gluten as if our lives depended on it (in fact that’s what we’re told, in many cases), skepticism is warranted.

And in this case, the skepticism turns into indignation when you look at the facts and realize that the gluten-free trend is, for the most part, just another marketing ploy to make people think they’re reaping health and fitness benefits that simply don’t exist.

Let’s get to it.

What is Gluten, Anyway?

Let’s ask some gluten-free folk!

Lol. Anyway…

Gluten (Latin for glue) is a naturally occurring protein found in wheat products and related species of grains like barley, rye, and spelt. It’s the substance that makes dough resilient and stretchy and it’s also often used as a thickening agent in other foods.

It sounds pretty harmless, right? Well, there’s more the story…

Gluten Causes Celiac Disease in a Very Small Number of People

Gluten  is actually comprised of two proteins–gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin molecules aren’t degraded by heat or digestion and when they’re absorbed by the small intestines, they can provoke an autoimmune response in some people.

When this happens, the symptoms felt when gluten is eaten are usually gastrointestinal–bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea, sometimes with smelly stools–but they can also include headache, muscle pain, fatigue, and others. This is because there are some pretty nasty things happening in the body:

The autoimmune response flattens the villi and makes them unable to properly absorb nutrients from the food passing by. This damage can remain for many years after gluten is completely eliminated from the diet, resulting in lingering gut inflammation and long-term micronutrient deficiencies.

In those genetically predisposed to it, the autoimmune problem with gliadin starts as an intolerance but, if the person continues to eat gluten and trigger the autoimmune responses, it eventually turns into a disease known as celiac disease, which is verifiable by the presence of certain antibodies produced in response to gluten and villi damage.

It’s estimated that between .3 and 1.2% of people have celiac disease and many cases go undiagnosed, partially because symptoms can be vague (general fatigueanxiety, and even other autoimmune disorders, for example) or absent altogether.  This is unfortunate because celiac disease is particularly nasty–definitely not something you want to leave untreated, even if it’s currently “silent” (without symptoms).

Now, that’s celiac disease–a rare condition that you probably don’t have. That is, chances gluten doesn’t trigger an all-out war in your gut like it does in celiacs.

What about people that complain about celiac-like symptoms when they eat gluten, though?

You Probably Don’t Have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a condition wherein a person experiences celiac-like symptoms when they eat gluten without the antibodies or intestinal damage seen in celiac disease.

There are many “simple” explanations thrown around as to what might be causing the sensitivity, but the research is scant. It’s possible that, in some people with “different” intestinal physiologies (that’s about as specific as we can be at the moment), long-term consumption of gluten can create a gluten sensitivity, but we just don’t know yet.

According to recent research, for every person who has celiac disease, there are probably six or seven people who have a gluten sensitivity, which sounds like a lot, but is only somewhere between 3 and 7% of all people. So chances are you don’t have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, either…even if you think you do.

Further muddying the water is the “nocebo” effect, which is the opposite of the placebo effect: a harmless substance causes harm when taken.

well-designed study conducted by Monash University and published in 2013 found that in people with self-reported non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten only caused negative symptoms when subjects knew they were eating it. When they thought it was something else, they experienced no symptoms.

Furthermore, subjects’ gastroistestinal issues were not improved by reducing the amount of gluten in their diets, but were improved by reducing the amount of fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates (FODMAPs) like grains, beans, dairy, and even some fruits.

These findings are in line with other research that indicates that what many people think is a gluten sensitivity is actually a reaction to FODMAPs. 

That is, it’s not the gluten that causes the issues for these people, but these specific types of carbohydrates that aren’t absorbed by the small intestine and pass into the large intestine, are fermented by bacteria, and create gas, bloating, and discomfort.

In more extreme cases, such as constipation, headache, fatigue, and lethargy, the symptoms often stem from irritable bowel syndrome, not a gluten sensitivity.

So, the bottom line is your body probably deals with gluten just fine, and if you think it doesn’t due to symptoms experienced after eating gluten-containing products, it’s probably not the gluten causing the issues.

That said, if certain gluten-containing foods like wheat and other grains don’t sit well with you–if they give you a stomach ache or diarrhea, make you bloated, gassy or fatigued, etc.–then it makes sense to avoid them, regardless of what’s exactly causing the reaction.

Should We Eat All the Gluten We Want, Then?

If you’re like me and eating gluten doesn’t cause any negative reactions in your body, there’s no reason to follow a gluten-free diet. That said, I still think it’s a good idea to generally keep gluten intake low. Why?

Well, research has demonstrated that, over time, diets high in gluten can cause mucosal changes and damage to intestinal cells in non-celiac people. These effects may be limited to people with certain genetic predispositions and thus not a general problem, but more research is needed to really know.

What we do know is that it may be related to a protein known as zonulin, which controls the opening and closing of the “gates” of the small intestine, allowing certain molecules to pass into the blood while prevent others.

Research has shown that gliadin causes zonulin levels to rise in both celiac and non-celiac people, which means more gliadin proteins get into the blood (as well as other macromolecules that shouldn’t be there). It’s possible that chronically elevated zonulin levels caused by high, regular gluten intake could cause these gates to become dysfunctional, which may be involved in the development of autoimmunity.

Again, this may only become a problem in people genetically predisposed to it, but we just don’t know yet.

So, considering all that, I’d rather play it safe by following a relatively low-gluten diet, which for me is a few gluten-containing meals per week.

I’m sure I could eat more gluten and be fine, but I don’t really have a reason to eat it daily. I’m just not that big of a fan of grains. If I were, though, I would mainly stick to gluten-free options like buckwheat, corn, oats, quinoa, and rice.

A Gluten-Free Diet Isn’t Necessarily a Healthy One

“Gluten-free” is quickly becoming synonymous with “healthy,” and this is simply marketing bullshit.

The reality is a gluten-free diet offers no special health benefits, and ironically, many gluten-free foods are less nutritious, tend to be higher in carbohydrates and fat and lower in protein, and lower in fiber than their gluten-containing counterparts.

This is part of the reason why research has found that people with celiac disease following a gluten-free diet often have micronutrient deficiencies–like a vegan or vegetarian diet, the gluten-free diet just comes with nutritional “blind spots” that must be knowingly compensated for.

Oh and another fun tidbit? Gluten-free foods are, on average, about 242% more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts. Being unhealthy has never been so pricey!

A Gluten-Free Diet Won’t Help You Lose Weight

The biggest pieces of gluten-free marketing bullshit are the claims about how it will help you lose weight, usually by “unclogging” your body (whatever the hell that means).

Gluten-free dieting does not exempt you from the laws of energy balance, which dictate weight loss and gain. 

You can get plenty fat on a gluten-free diet, and ironically, the lower fiber content can make it even easier to overeat (fiber induces satiety). In fact, one study found that after 2 years of gluten-free dieting, 81% of celiac disease patients had gained weight and 82% that were already overweight gained additional weight (which is important because these weren’t underweight people coming into a healthy weight). Another similarly designed study found that 27% of initially overweight celiac disease patients gained weight on a gluten-free diet.

The bottom line is you want to lose weight efficiently and effortlessly, you’re going to have to plan or count calories correctlySimply eliminating gluten or carbohydrates or any other nutritional bogeyman won’t cut it.


What are your thoughts on the gluten-free diet? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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Leave a Comment!
  • Hi Mike

    When I saw the title of your article I shot straight over, ready for a discussion on molecular mimicry, leaky gut syndrome, auto-immunity etc. I definitely think your title is a little alarmist, but that said, the article itself is IMHO, pretty on the money when one reads it 🙂

    In reality, I don’t think that following a gluten free diet is unhealthy, even if you are just following the ‘precautionary principle’, but as you say, when one starts buying all these gluten free goodies and thinking it’s healthy, they couldn’t be further from the truth in many cases.

    My wife is a true coeliac, and she believes that her gluten free bread, pasta, biscuits etc are a healthy option. They are full of crap, highly processed seed oils, and many ingredients that go into the highly processed gluten containing crap too.

    Not quite the same in the ‘paleo goodies’ world, the food is often still highly processed with a load of paleo peeps just jumping on the bandwagon to make a fast buck.

    However, back to gluten. I train quite a few folks online for fat loss. I’m not quite as prolific as you but I hope to get there one day.

    I do usually, particulalry if they have chronic aches and pains, skin issues, etc, get them to spend the first few weeks on a diet that is almost exclusively non processed foods without gluten, and see how they go. Most people feel better, less bloated, aches diminish etc.

    That said, I spent a week in Paris last year (I think you did a podcast from Paris once?), and ate french baguette all week with zero problems. If I eat a lot of supermarket bread, I feel crap for days.

    I like your rational approach to all this, rather than just jumping on a bandwagon.

    The alarmist title, well, I guess we all want to be noticed 🙂

    Best Wishes

    Stephen Reed

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment brother!

      Check out the papers on nutritional deficiencies that develop in celiacs that follow a GFD. There are inherent drawbacks to GFD that should be compensated for either through deliberate food choices or supplementation. Not a big deal but it SHOULD be compensated for, that’s all.

      The issues your clients run into are probably more related to FODMAPs.

      My wife has the same thing–the wheat from the States can bother her stomach but the wheat in Germany (where she’s from) and the rest of the EU countries we’ve visited doesn’t bother her at all.

      • Hey Mike

        Thanks for the reply, my wife likes to eat all the ‘healthy’ gluten free shite you talk about, what’s a man to do.

        Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but whe you have some knowledge/skill in some area, your family never asks advice, if you give it, they look at you like you’re stupid. Best give up er 🙂

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha happy wife = happy life so live and let live. I understand that. 🙂

          Lol especially when they know you’re going to tell them something they don’t want to hear. 😉

  • Nathan

    I don’t know how you can put out so much great content on your blog and still write books and run Legion. I have 2 questions though.
    Do you foam roll everyday?
    And what do you do when your cutting and you plateau on your lifts. I get plenty of sleep, I bumped up my caffeine and still nothing, what do you suggest?

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha well I work a LOT and have a great group of guys working with me that help me ensure I can spend the majority of my time on the work that matters most.

      I haven’t been rolling every day but I need to put it back in because my right quad has been getting tight from golfing, lol. It’s a good daily thing to do, no doubt.

      Yes, I plateau on my lifts after about 4-5 weeks of cutting. Very normal.

  • Owen

    Lol @ the video it is both funny and sad to see so many people getting into something without being aware of what they are doing. I used to be prt of this too and I did so many tests(food intollerance,thyroid ect) and have also been diagnosed with IBS because I was always feeling bloated and discomfort. Since being diagnosed with IBS i was trying ti avoid this and that but one day I started taking training seriosly and with that came the balanced macros and all of a sudden the bloating stopped!! I am not saying that all of the tests are bullshit BUT before sticking a label to yourself LIVE healthy! Excercise and eat BALANCED and then decide if you still feel the symptoms.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s interesting. You still eat the same types of food and exercise alone handled the IBS?

      • Theo

        i was diagnosed with IBS a few years back. every time i ate, it gave me a sore, tight gut for a few hours. when i started going to the gym 3 days a week i no longer got that discomfort anymore and there was no real change in my diet at the time. I occasionally get a ‘pregnant type belly’ fro what ever reason, but exercise has without doubt helped my IBS.

  • Lance

    Interesing take by Mark Sisson

    Gluten free from the Paleo/Primal perspective doesn’t mean substituting gluten free crap for gluten containing foods, but focusing on fresh fruits, vegetables and pastured/grass fed meats whenever possible.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I saw this. I like his work but he has to tread carefully here because GF is a BIG part of his pitch.

      • GutGeek

        For sure, GF is huge part of the Primal pitch! Anyway, Mike and Lance I totally agree with your point, that foods sold as gluten-free are often not nutritious. Look at the labels and they’re almost always packed full of other processed starches like rice and tapioca starch. Another racket by the food industry!

        • Michael Matthews


  • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork

    I have avoided gluten for about five years now due to an intolerance. I lost weight, but I didn’t set out to lose weight. I just didn’t sub all of the gluten I was eating with the gluten-free version. I don’t buy gluten free cookies, crackers, cakes, etc., unless it is a very special occasion. I found a huge difference in my healthy, but I do realize a lot of it had to do with the junk I was probably eating before. The more I read labels to discover if there was gluten, and the more I found it in incredibly unlikely places, the healthier I began to eat. I eat relatively clean now and feel great. However, it was definitely cutting the gluten that got rid of my incredibly painful, constant bloating that was a huge quality of life issue. I agree that people are turning to the GF diet for the wrong reasons, though. People ask if I did it to lose weight and I tell them that while I happened to lose weight, it’s because I cut out the crap. It’s not because of being GF.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great you’re doing better now, but remember that it’s much more likely that you were reacting to FODMAPs, not gluten per se, that’s all.

      • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork

        Will definitely keep in mind and do more research! I do tend to have issues with digesting beans and sometimes apples (lots of fiber!) and naturally avoid many of the other FODMAP foods. Thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          Nice. Well that’s good you’ve figured out what works for your body!

          • Please can you provide more details on FODMAP foods and why anyone should care about them? Thanks

          • Michael Matthews

            You don’t need to care, really, unless you get GI issues when you eat them. That’s the only valid way to assess food intolerances, really. I’m going to write an article about it.

            But in case you just want to learn more:


          • Cristina

            Hi Mike, have you written the article on FODMAPs? I have a serious GI issues and look forward to reading your article. Thanks for all the helpful info, love your site!

          • No I haven’t but you can read about it all over the place. It’s well researched. A simple food eliminating and challenging diet is the way to go with it.

  • Belinda Jane

    I am not gluten intolerant and I know that in all likelihood I’m not sensitive to it either. But I do know that I feel a lot better when I avoid foods that I know are high in gluten (bread & pasta mainly). So generally I try to follow a gluten-free diet. However, I’m very aware of the fuel that my body needs to thrive and function so the gluten free thing is just a small part of my diet – I make sure that I’m getting the right macro and micro-nutrients through food and some supplements each day.

    I can certainly understand how the general public might jump on this as another fad to make themselves feel better. I do my part to try to point people in the right direction to learn for themselves how they should be eating but for the most part it falls on deaf ears 🙁

    • Michael Matthews

      Nothing wrong with that.

      It’s a separate subject but there does seem to be something awry with wheat here in the States. I’ve spoken with quite a few people that get reactions when they eat American wheat products and who go to Europe and have NO issues whatsoever.

      • Nathan Hanak

        It has a lot to do with Monsanto and their food empire. We used to have many varieties (40+) of wheat we would use to use in our “bread” products. Now we use about 3, and they’re all genetically modified. A big problem as well is that the gluten portion of those plants has been increased because it supposedly protects the plants better from insects. So we are perhaps getting more of it than we are used to with our traditional bread intake.

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s possible but I haven’t looked into it much.

          Monsanto has an atrocious track record so I don’t trust them AT ALL, but on the other hand, websites like Natural News get downright hysterical in their rantings and kind of discredit the good information that’s out there.

  • Leslie

    Hey Mike great article as usual! I love reading your stuff with that said I’ve been gluten free for almost three years when I was diagnosed with microscopic colitis gluten among other stuff (corn legumes soy and milk) make my symptoms so bad I feel yucky for days. I eat very clean my food doesn’t have ingredients my food is the ingredient (except for my one slice of gluten free toast with breakfast) it seems to be working for my body as I’ve been symptom free for months it was alot of trial and error and believe me I know when I’ve been glutened whether it’s obvious or not

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! That’s great you figured out what the issue is and of course GF makes sense for you given your circumstances!

  • William Lim Jr

    Hey Mike!

    Thank you so much for this article. I am very passionate about this issue. It seems that we – modern, scientific, intelligent – people never learn from our mistakes. Time and time again, we have always been proven wrong whenever we generalize and broadly vilify any particular food group or substance.

    It may be a surprise to us, especially for those who are interested in fitness and muscle building, but back in the late 19th century towards the turn to the 20th, it was actually proteins that were considered evil. Then some decades after, we go into what we’re more familiar (and now largely scoffed) thinking that fat is unhealthy. Then we go further to the nineties and early 21st century notion that carbs are the culprit. Fast forward to now when Gluten is the archenemy of anyone healthy. Looking at the trend, I’m sure we’ll see another repeat of history to move on to the next villain.

    What a lot of more sober thinkers is realizing, really, is that isolating anything doesn’t work because real life is a whole big context. Studies are that all these former, and I bet current, evil food groups were demonized because they were always looked at in isolation and not as a whole.

    For one thing, we are eating gluten in forms that our ancestors have have never seen. The “bread” we know is not the bread that ancient etruscans have been eating. If the bread they ate was so bad, it wouldn’t make sense for bread eating to survive millennia of human civilization all through industrial revolution. What more and more people are discovering is that the “bread” we are eating is not real bread of way back when. For instance, real bread (nowadays we call it sourdough) takes at least 18 hours to make. It is made with inherent yeasts in the flour. This length is necessary not only for allow the bread to rise naturally, but also to allow for natural enzymes in the dough to ferment the bread into something that we can actually digest. Studies are now showing that the fermentation process actually diminishes the amount of gluten in these long-risen breads and that a significant number of subjects with celiac disease can eat them without adverse effects. The “bread” that most of us now know takes only two hours to make, if not one. They are made with industrial yeast, which is used for convenience, consistency, and practicality. This is just too fast for natural enzymes to render the bread digestible. Moreover, mass-market breads are loaded with additives for easy transport, storage, and other things that were not really intended for the highly evolved, time tested bread humans have been eating for so long.

    I am not downplaying the reality that some people do have sensitivities or digestive problems. But a lot of times, we as consumers are made to freak out about certain substances for the sake of marketing and sales. I’m pretty sure the Gluten panic will die down sooner or later and then we’ll see another evil food arise.

    We have to thank and imitate people like you who really look into the bottom of things.


    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the great comment!

      Generally speaking I wouldn’t be surprised if the run-of-the-mill wheat here in the States is just complete shit. I haven’t looked into it much because I don’t eat it, but the big food companies don’t give a FUCK about our health so…

  • Joseph Piscitelli

    I’ve eaten Gluten Products my Entire Life (I’m Italian). Now that I have Osteo-Arthritis, I can no longer Tolerate it, as it really effects my Joints. This has been going on for over 5 Years now. Every now and then, I will have a Piece of Bread or Pizza, and the next day my Joints are Hurting Terribly. Yet when my Doctor tested me for Gluten Sensitivity, the test came back Negative. So maybe it’s something else which is present in the Dwarf Wheat. I don’t have a problem with any Ancient Grain, such as Teff, Amaranth, Spelt. Just the Dwarf Variety of Wheat, that began to take over the Farming Industry in the 60’s.

    • Michael Matthews

      Oops I somehow missed this. That’s interesting! Well at least you know what to stay away from…

  • Teri Fout

    I have been gluten free and on a very low carb high fat diet for about 15 years now. I have never felt better or had more energy than I do now. I’m 62 and doubt there are many 30 year Olds could keep up with me. I tried this “fad” when I became fatter and fatter trying to lose weight on low calorie, low fat diets. I find your wholesale condemnation of low carb or paleo type diets a lot unsettling. There are many of us out here who have lost weight and kept it off for many years on what you consider a fad diet. The genetically modified grains, ESPECIALLY wheat, has been found to be extremely inflammatory and unhealthy for many people. I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, I just know from my own experience that a gluten free diet has probably saved my life. Please don’t just spout conventional wisdom–if you research you will find that we have been lied to about many things regarding nutrition. But don’t take my word for it, research it yourself. I don’t eat gluten free products. I don’t eat processed food at all. Gluten free products are definitely unhealthy. I realize that some people think if they buy gluten free cookies they are doing a good thing. Just like those folks who rushed out and bought low carb products and then yammered about how low carb doesn’t work. Just eat real unprocessed food and good healthy fats to maintain a normal weight and good health. It’s not difficult and certainly not rocket science!

    • Michael Matthews

      Oops I missed this. Thanks for the comment.

      Remember that you can only lose weight by putting yourself in a calorie deficit. You can do it by dramatically reducing carb intake if you’d like or by restricting calorie-dense foods, but those are just two ways of doing it.

      Regarding research, did you see how many papers I cited in this article?

      • Азу Кипоси

        Mike, you are just wrong. Calorie deficit is not the key factor. Do some research please…

        • Michael Matthews

          Lol. And the Earth is flat and the center of the universe too, right?

          • Quackolyn

            Wow. Really? Thousands of years of this method isn’t research enough?

          • Michael Matthews

            And about a century of clinical research…

          • Calorie Deficit has always sounded too simple to be true. And the laws of thermodynamics are not easily applied to human diet and exercise either.
            Mike you have pointed out the flaws in the “Insulin is bad” argument and covered a lot of the need for calorie counting in your books, but I still can’t get my head around some of the more outrageous statements about calories and weight loss and/or strength gain.
            You can’t just say that if you eat a cookie containing 50 calories and then step on a treadmill and work off 50 calories that you won’t lose or gain weight. Biology isn’t that simple, or Men’s Health magazine would be factual (grin)

          • Michael Matthews


            The “concession” I will make is that the “energy out” part of the equation can get tricky. I’m going to write an article about it soon.

  • Raeshelle

    I personally avoid gluten due to my blood type. I am B+ and certain forms of gluten are not good for me, that said spelt is good for my blood type. I work out almost religiously and have others asking me what I am doing to keep my weight down. I was 50lbs overweight and went from a size 14 to a size 4. I agree gluten free is not a ticket to stuff yourself on sweets, and I feel better avoiding gluten and will continue to. Everything in moderation and do what works for you!!!

  • JT86

    Great article. Personally I don’t suffer from problems when eating bread. But last year I stopped my gluten intake to lose weight. Low and behold I lost a stone, and felt a lot better inside as well. I occasionally eat bread when eating out. But personally I think people should really lower if not avoid ‘bready’ products.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Many people have the same experience and it’s because they are reducing their calorie intake without realizing it. Many gluten-containing foods that people eat are very high in calories.

  • Ash

    Mike, would you consider doing an article about the nutritional “blind spots” of a whole foods plant-based, “plant strong” vegan diet? Much like the Paleo community, the “plant strong” community can be plagued with dogma that allows little room for critical thinking. It’s difficult to find information within the community that admits to veganism’s shortcomings and offers amendments. I feel my best on a whole foods plant-based diet, but I want to avoid any pitfalls and nutritional deficiencies by appropriately supplementing and adjusting. I don’t want my health compromised long-term because I lacked the information to eat my best. Thanks for reading!

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah it’s on the list. I have experience working with vegans and it can be made to work but it’s tricky.

      • Ash

        Thank you, I’m happy to hear it’s on your radar. I’m looking forward to an honest, scientific evaluation from a non-vegan source. While I consider Dr. Fuhrman’s literature to be pretty good on the whole, nothing should be regarded as gospel, you know? It’s best to be informed from all sides of a subject. I hope you’re having a great day, and I thank you for all that you do.

        • Michael Matthews

          I’m not too familiar with Fuhrman’s work but I know he advocates very low-calorie dieting, which I’m not a fan of.

  • Brad

    Is the fact that gluten is derived from the latin word “glue” a good enough reason to avoid it? I don’t want to be putting anything related to “glue” into the body. And perhaps that’s where the idea of “unclogging” comes from. No “glue” and whatever before was stuck to the “glue” gets flushed out.

    • Michael Matthews


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  • Katherine

    Women with endometriosis(including myself) notice that a gluten free diet helps with relieveing alot of the symptoms of the disease. I have been Low gluten for several months and have noticed great benifit. Many of my Endo Sisters have been gluten free for years and have seen great results in the reduction of pain during BM, reduction of bloating and other GI related symptoms.

    • Michael Matthews

      Interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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  • Jay

    Hi Mike! I have a question about fiber. Do you substract calories from fiber when you eat something like oatmeal? I heard that in Europe, those calories are not include with carbs on food labels. It would make sense since fiber cannot be metabolize… Thx in advance!

    • Michael Matthews

      No as only insoluble fiber is “calorie-free.” I will write an article on this.

      • Jay

        Thx! There is a lot of confusion about this…:)

        • Michael Matthews


  • Quackolyn

    The husband has Crohn’s and was put on a gluten free diet. We don’t eat “gluten-free” processed foods, we have a CLEAN diet, and he’s able to even stand some gluten. So, a lot of protein and produce. I think you’re right about maybe it being other things that make his gut react. Seriously, some of the “gluten-free” crap makes him feel worse than just having a slice of wheat bread.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s very sensible and yes a lot of GF foods are junk just riding the trend.

  • Jason Brown

    I don’t think the focus should be “gluten free” as that’s such a blanket term. Sweet tarts and other crappy foods are gluten free. I think it should be focused on just eating real food. So maybe it should be called a “processed free” diet instead. Gluten can damage the gut, as you said, so it’s best to avoid it…but eating crappy food labeled as “gluten free” is still just crappy food.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s true but having a bit of gluten here and there isn’t going to damage your gut. It’s possible that eating a LOT of it can cause issues.

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  • I ask for gluten free pizza when available because it often tastes less “doughy” than standard pizza.
    When I buy fish and chips the gluten free batter tastes better. For the rest of the time I try to avoid bread and cookies because they make me hungry. I’m not avoiding gluten per se, but the processed food it comes in.

    I agree that most so-called Gluten Free products are just more marketing BS.
    My grandfather used to say “Everything in moderation” which is a sensible antidote to most marketing hype.
    Thanks once again for a good reality check, Mike.

    • Michael Matthews

      Nothing wrong with that brother. I prefer gluten-containing products but that’s just me.

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  • Becca Morris

    Honestly, it’s all luck and good genetics that determine your longevity. If vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. diets were really what made us live longer, then everybody doing so would all live to be 100. If someone comes from a family who will often live to be 70 or so, chances are that will be the person’s approximate live expectancy, as well, even on the “healthiest” diet. If a person comes from a family in which they live well into their 90s, they are likely to live just as long, even with an “unhealthy” diet (look at Betty White). If you really want to be as healthy as possible, get active, because with the two other things, your diet is the least of your problems

    • Nah it’s just a matter of probabilities. A healthy lifestyle is going to give you the highest probability of long-term survival. A shit lifestyle makes it more likely that you’re going to suffer and die of disease.

  • Jdib

    Mike, would love an article from you debating (or agreeing with) the blood type diet. I know your article would be an interesting one.

    • I’ll add it to the list. I’ve read a bit about it and it looks like it’s bullshit like the rest of the fad diets.

  • Mariana

    Hi Mike! I recently read this book called “Brain Grain” by Dr David Perlmutter which essentially portrays gluten as the antichrist, and claims that gluten is a major cause of dementia. Honestly, I’m really confused at the moment in terms of what view I should take on gluten — as I see it, the keep it moderate approach youre taking sounds reasonable, especially because of the huge downsides of a totally gluten free diet (as the book I read recommended) which you mentioned in this article… What are your views on this? Thanks!

    • Yeah I know the book.

      IMO, when looking at both sides of the argument, I think the “safe” choice is to keep wheat and gluten intake moderate and make sure you’re doing everything else you can to improve your health (eating plenty of nutritious foods, sleeping enough, exercising regularly, etc.).

      If you do all that, you’ll be totally fine.

  • Todd

    The problem is the way industry has changed how grains are processed so that more can be produced to maintain a profit. You would think that with how advanced technology is that production of these grains could advance towards making them with a healthier process. It’s just the opposite. So much crap out there is genetically modified and over processed. There is a history of alzheimer’s in my family. And the numbers nearly double every five years. I’ll stick to gluten free and the “hype”. Just eat real food. I cut out gluten completely mostly because of the foods that contain it are processed in some way. GMO’s are a big problem. You just don’t know what you’re eating anymore.

  • Jason

    Duhh, gluten sensitivity is just a bunch of morons trying to satisfy the need to have something wrong with them when their isnt

    • Not sure I totally agree there but I do see where you’re coming from.

    • David J

      You couldn’t be any more ignorant.

  • David J

    “intestinal physiologies (that’s about as specific as we can be at the moment), long-term consumption of gluten can create a gluten sensitivity, but we just don’t know yet.”

    That’s right, you don’t know. I’m tired of people with no issues with gluten commenting for the rest. Non celiac gluten sensitivity is real.

    • It’s real but not nearly as prevalent as many people think.

      • antheaura

        …but if YOU are the one affected, then that’s as “prevalent” as you need!

        • Definitely. But many people make the mistake of thinking what’s not good for them is not good for everyone.

  • Hen

    I think we should be eating a little of everything & not too much of anything. We probably eat too much gluten, & less would do no harm, but some is important.
    My husband has decided that gluten is harmful for him. He’s cut it out, & claims that when he eats it, his joints hurt (?!), yet when he doesn’t know he’s eating it (which is often), he’s fine!! I would like to add that he has become miserable since he’s cut the gluten out.

    • I’ve heard the same from various people. There definitely is something to it.

    • Lindsay Stoddard

      I get joint pain from eating gluten. I’m glad my boyfriend doesn’t sneak it into my diet to “test” me.

      • That’s awesome you’ve found out what causes it!

  • LighthouseCeliac

    Having Celiac for decades without knowing it. I get a kick out of anyone who doesn’t live with it every moment having any kind of understanding. It is a medical diet for lif not for weight loss. No one completely understands what causes it. We all are completely different with hundreds of different symptoms. Gluten zero is what my medical diet has to be to maintain my health and weight. If I am exposed to microscopic amounts of wheat barley rye and also oats and corn products I will lose weight quickly and months of being extremely ill. We encourage anyone to get a good diagnoses. It is very difficult. Around 87% of people with Celiac Sprue have no idea. Gluten sensitivity is a very real thing and is finally getting some great attention by scientists and the medical community. If you suspect anything go to Enterolab and order tests. Don’t read things like are in this article. Get answers not silly speculation. And if someone sneaks it in someone’s diet shame on you. You don’t see the damage. The small intestines don’t have a window. You are simply poisoning someone, if you don’t see or feel their symptoms it doesn’t mean you are correct in thinking this is all in their head.

    • Did you read the article? I wholeheartedly agree with you.

  • Amber Melvin

    I appreciate all that you have shared. A recent study also linked glyphosate the active ingredient in Round Up Ready which is heavily applied worldwide, causes gluten intolerance https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945755/.

    This herbicide is hard to avoid unless you are 100% organic, which is difficult to achieve too, so this can be contributing to the rise of gluten intolerance. Also, in the 1960s hybrid wheat has less nutritional density and greater gluten content hit the market. There’s studies showing healthy people that switched from modern wheat to the ancient grains with less gluten and greater nutrition reduced inflammation (an underlying cause of most modern disease), and their blood cholesterol levels.

    I think if you aren’t feeling well, its worth it to try gluten free. But you really have to commit, because gluten is in most processed foods unless labeled otherwise. Also those with sensitivities may be having cross-reactions with other foods and so going gluten free, unfortunately is not enough. I went gluten free, felt better for awhile and then hit the wall. Later i officially received a Celiac diagnosis, and even though I was already gluten free I still felt like hell.

    Very thorough blood tests revealed I was having a strong immune reaction to many of the ingredients in the gluten free products. I have just as strong immune reaction to tapioca starch (common ingredient in GF products) as I do with gluten, I also react to rice. Anyhow my opinion, gluten intolerance is probably way under diagnosised, it was hard enough just to get a celiac diagnosis. Only 35% of people with celiac have diarrhea, it personally doesn’t affect me in this way. I develop anxiety and feel like I have the flu. For a couple years, doctors dismissed my saying I felt better gluten free, and insisted my issue was anxiety.

    A blood test I highly recommend can be found here, https://www.joincyrex.com/the-cyrex-system/array-4-gluten-associated-cross-reactive-foods-foods-sensitivity-
    to check for allergic reactions to food. I feel compelled to share, because it has helped me immensely. Some food allergy test are incomplete because they only test for immediate reactions, food allergies can also be a delayed reaction. It can take several days before any symptoms appear, and they aren’t even necessarily gastric upset.

  • Mike

    Based on all the research I have done(and I’ve done quite a bit)I would say it’s probably better to maintain a gluten free(or very low gluten free)diet than not to. Even this article says it can be bad if you eat too much of it. To some degree it’s about the way gluten is processed. For me personally I have a gluten sensitivity so I avoid it for that reason but even if I didn’t I would either stay away or eat it very rarely. These days I don’t eat any grains whatsoever.

    • Thanks for sharing, Mike! I agree that it’s best to avoid gluten if you find that you don’t do well with gluten-containing foods. A relatively low-gluten diet isn’t a bad idea.

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