For individuals with celiac disease – a digestive and autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten can cause damage to the small intestine – staying away from products that contain the protein is a matter of necessity. Recently, however, millions of Americans without a diagnosed sensitivity to gluten have decided to cut out wheat and related grains from their diets based on claims that a gluten-free nutrition plan can boost wellness and weight loss. The gluten-free diet craze has blossomed into a billion-dollar industry, with a myriad of food products, books, and nutritional supplements flooding the market. The question is: Are health claims associated with gluten fact or profitable fiction?
- Related: Should you go gluten-free?
To debate the merits of the gluten-free diet, The Doctors welcome Dr. Alan Levinovitz, professor and author of “The Gluten Lie,” as well as celiac disease specialist Dr. Tom O’Bryan. Hear what they have to say:
When asked what the title of his book refers to, Dr. Levinovitz replies, “The lie is that…we should fear these things. Really, the science isn’t there yet.”
Dr. O’Bryan, however, argues that all people, regardless of whether they have a diagnosed sensitivity to gluten, can develop digestive complications when exposed to gluten.
- Related: Can celiac disease affect fertility?
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says anecdotal evidence that cutting out gluten can improve one’s well-being can be misleading, pointing out that simply avoiding refined wheat products would make anyone feel better. He adds that the gluten-free trend is a billion dollar industry that “capitalizes on people’s fears,” which bothers him.
Watch as the debate heats up between the doctors:
"The more that we can eat natural foods from the earth, in their original condition, the better off we're all going to be," Dr. Travis says.