‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Going Gluten-Free: The Unintended Consequences

Folks, if you are gluten-free, going gluten-free, or have a friend who's gluten-free... This one's for you. The gluten-free diet bandwagon that is so on-point and "healthy" right now is sort of just a crumbly mess (get it? coz gluten makes things chewy, so no gluten makes things, yeah you get it)... And, there's research to prove it.

First off, if you've actually been correctly diagnosed with Celiac Disease, that's a different story. In your case, a gluten-free diet for life is the diet prescription for you. If, however, you haven't been diagnosed (by a real doctor who followed the correct gluten-loading protocol before doing a small intestinal biopsy) pay attention and chew on this.

You gluten-free fans "think it's healthier", so you might be strained to read this... But just for you, I'll put the evidence where my Pie Hole is.

New research shows people eating less gluten have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes... Wait what? Go with me here:
  • People who follow a gluten-free diet eat less cereal fibers (you know, like whole grains)
    • Fiber is protective against type 2 diabetes... And many diseases like colon cancer, heart disease, diverticulitis, metabolic syndrome, obesity, constipation, and more
    • Gluten-free foods tend to have less fiber and fewer micronutrients (they are actually less nutritious, or less "healthy", seriously read the labels of gluten-free vs conventional foods)
  • People in the highest 20% of gluten consumption (about 12g/day) had a 13% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those in the lowest 20% (about 4g/day)
  • This was a 30 year follow up study with nearly 200,000 Americans
    • The study began in 1984 and ended in 2013 - this is a caveat because it was prior to the gluten-free diet craze, the research doesn't have a group of people on a diet of 0 grams of gluten per day
But wait, there's more for you to noodle on (sorry, am I being gluten intolerant..?)
I dug around after reading the above new research and found a few other studies that had some intriguing findings:
  • After 1 month of following a gluten-free diet, participants had a decrease in healthy gut bacteria including Bifidobacterium, B. longum, and Lactobacillus
    • These are important for things like pooping, and colon cell turnover (helps prevent colon cancer)
  • The decrease in healthy gut bacteria was accompanied by an increase in unhealthy gut bacteria (E. coli and total Enterobacteriaceae), which was in parallel to the decrease in polysaccharide (fiber) consumption
    • From 117g to 63g (also important for pooping, wow, I got to drop another "poop" in this article)
  • In addition, immunostimulatory properties in feces (determined in large part by bacteria present in the gut) was remarkably decreased after following the gluten-free diet
    • Specifically, changes in inflammatory/anti-inflammatory compounds in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. These blood monocytes are known to constantly replenish monocytes in the intestinal mucosa (cells lining the intestine)
Translation = A gluten-free diet not only decreased the healthy gut bacteria populations, it increased the unhealthy bacteria, which is likely tied to the decreased fiber intake seen on the gluten-free diet. These together also decreased the stimulation of the host's immune system.
So, not only do gluten-free foods not taste as yummy as gluten-containing foods, they are also less nutritious, contain less fiber (insert poop emoji here), and they are damaging to your precious microbiome... Still wanting to go gluten-free? I guess you are a glutton for punishment.

You can read more about gluten intolerance here and here. More about the microbiome here and here.
Relax... They're funny