In the news: A gluten-free diet can cause heart disease. Or can it?


junk science
Is it junk science?  Judge for yourself!



This post is meant for informational purposes only.  The opinions and views herein are strictly my own. 

Science and the media have done it again; a new study by BMJ is making headlines.  It basically states that eating gluten free diet increases your risk of heart disease, and you should only stop eating gluten if you have celiac disease.

Depending on which website you click on, there are different excerpts of the article. Some show that only those with celiac disease should be gluten free.  This is why you need to read more than one source to get the full picture.  At first, I was really angry to see that those of us with non-celiac gluten intolerance were left out again, until I found the article posted on   But it turns out that the person who did the study did acknowledge that part of the population.

But does a gluten-free diet contribute to heart disease?

From CBS news:

Recently, researchers have reported that some people may have what’s known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a condition that’s not totally understood.

“I don’t want to dismiss the fact that there are people who have the sensitivity,” said Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

But, the rest of the population should not think that going gluten-free will help their health — at least not their heart health, he said.

For the study, Chan and his colleagues analyzed data on nearly 65,000 women and more than 45,000 men, all U.S. health professionals without a history of heart disease when the study started. The study participants completed a detailed food questionnaire beginning in 1986 and updated it every four years until 2010.

The researchers looked at gluten intake, dividing participants into five groups from low to high, then calculated how likely they were to develop heart disease over roughly 26 years.

When the researchers compared the highest-intake gluten group with the lowest, the rates of heart disease were not very different.

Dr. Ravi Dave is a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles Geffen School of Medicine.

“Eating gluten-free is a big fad right now,” said Dave, who wasn’t involved in the study. “There is a lot of hype about how gluten produces inflammation and can lead to giving you diabetes, heart disease, dementia, a lot of things.”

Although he finds this new study inconclusive, Dave agreed with the researchers: “We should not recommend people who don’t have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease go on a gluten-free diet,” he said.

Dave also said the study left some questions unanswered. For instance, it doesn’t reveal what the people who avoided gluten substituted. “Were they picking a more unhealthy choice that put them at risk for heart disease?” he wondered.

For people who still want or need to steer clear of gluten, Chan said it’s important to obtain adequate amounts of fiber. Oats and brown rice are good sources of gluten-free fiber, he noted.

The study had no food industry funding. It was published online May 2 in BMJ.

When I found the article on, it made no mention of those with non-celiac gluten intolerance:

Roughly one percent of Americans suffer from celiac disease — an autoimmune disorder that triggers inflammation and intestinal issues. The solution for these individuals is to follow a gluten-free diet that avoids consumption of the protein found in whole grains.

But over the past few years, those without celiac disease have opted to go gluten-free for an array of reasons, from weight loss to general health benefits. In the United States, 0.52 percent of the population without celiac disease maintained a gluten-free diet from 2009 to 2010, according to a study. But that rate tripled by 2013 to 2014, when 1.69 percent of the celiac-free population adopted a gluten-free lifestyle.

Now, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have found a troubling association between those who go gluten-free without celiac disease and their heart health.

No mention is made of the above quote:

“I don’t want to dismiss the fact that there are people who have the sensitivity,” said Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

I do agree that going gluten free without having gluten intolerance or celiac disease is not something you should be doing.  It is not healthy.  I cannot for the life of me understand why someone would put themselves through this difficult lifestyle if they didn’t have to.

My point here is, do your research, and don’t believe everything you read.  Get the full story.  And make your own informed decisions.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments!



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Miri says:

    I agree with you. A recent study (July 2016) discover that NCGS may be more severe that celiacs. Both groups most avoid gluten at all costs. The rest of the mortal in earth, can enjoy the 🍺🍩🍰🍪🍦🍟🍕🌭🥞🍔🍤. There’s other healthy ways to lost weight without any food restrictions. Moderation and portion control are the key.


    1. glutenfreelady says:

      Well said Miri. Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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