Goobers and Raisinets are gluten-free. Milky Way bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are gluten-free.
If these candies are gluten-free, you should eat lots of them, right? How about Goobers for breakfast, a Milky Way bar for lunch, and a handful of Peanut Butter cups with dinner? Have candy for snacks. Feed them to the kids, serve them to friends. Pass a plate of Peanut Butter Cups around the table at holidays.
Whoooaa! You mean just because they’re gluten-free does not necessarily mean that they are healthy?
That’s precisely the point.
Gluten-free does not automatically make a food healthy. This basic fact trips up so many people that I find that it helps to re-emphasize this crucial point. People will even say “I follow the Wheat Belly lifestyle and I’m gluten-free.” Or “I have to be gluten-free because I have celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, or cerebellar ataxia.” They thereby eliminate foods made with gluten-containing wheat, rye, barley and choose gluten-free breads, pasta, bagels, pizza, etc.
Here’s the problem: Most foods labeled gluten-free by food manufacturers are made by substituting wheat flour with cornstarch, rice flour, tapioca starch, or potato flour. These gluten-free flours present problems because they:
- Increase blood sugar higher than all other foods–higher than wheat, higher than table sugar. If compared by glycemic index, there is no food with a higher glycemic index than gluten-free flours, higher than table sugar, higher than a Snickers bar, higher than Coca Cola.
- Increases insulin resistance, the process that leads to pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and increases risk for numerous other common chronic health conditions such as hypertension, coronary disease, dementia, and various cancers.
- Cause glycation, the irreversible reaction of sugars with proteins in the body, a process that leads to cataracts, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and accelerates aging.
- Trigger formation of small LDL particles that lead to heart attack and heart disease.
- Trigger weight gain and accumulation of visceral fat, i.e., fat that surrounds abdominal organs. Visceral fat is inflammatory, worsens insulin resistance, and is hormonally disruptive.
- Contribute to fatty liver, since the amylopectin and sugars of gluten-free flours fuel liver de novo lipogenesis, the conversion of carbs to triglycerides that accumulate in the liver.
- Increases triglycerides and VLDL particles in the bloodstream, also via liver de novo lipogenesis. VLDL contributes to heart disease and causes the conversion of large, relatively harmless LDL particles to harmful small LDL particles that cause heart disease.
- Cross-react with gluten—the zein protein of corn, present in residual quantities in cornstarch, can reactivate celiac disease and other gluten-driven processes. Yet most gastroenterologists advise people with gluten-sensitivity or celiac disease to consume gluten-free foods typically made with cornstarch that keeps their disease active.
Gluten-free processed foods such as breads, bagels, muffins, pasta, and baking mixes are therefore the problem because gluten-free manufacturers are either too ignorant or don’t care that their products cause people to develop a whole range of health problems.
Naturally gluten-free foods, such as eggs, ground beef, salmon, spinach, or kale are fine. And there are indeed gluten-free wheat substitutes and foods that are healthy made with safe substitutes such as almond flour, coconut flour, and flaxseed. That’s why the Wheat Belly conversation comes complete with its own recipes that are wheat- and gluten-free, low-carbohydrate, do not rely on ingredients such as cornstarch or rice flour, and share none of the adverse effects of gluten-free foods.
You can find the most up-to-date version of the complete Wheat Belly lifestyle in the latest Revised & Expanded Edition of Wheat Belly.