Gluten Free Controversy on Dr. Oz

We were notified that Dr. Oz was doing a segment on gluten free diets on his TV show today. Naturally, we had to tune in. Here’s the executive summary: If you’re sensitive to gluten, then you should probably stop eating it. 99% of the people who are gluten intolerant still don’t know it. However, the gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily healthy, and is not a good way to lose weight.

For the curious, you can watch the episode online here on the Dr. Oz website.

I wasn’t actually aware that anybody was touting the gluten-free diet as being great for weight loss. So that was news to me. On the show they did some product comparisons, and the basic gist of the matter was that gluten free versions of many popular foods are more caloric and contain less fiber. Of course, we ARE talking about a TV show here, so they might have just picked out the most egregious offenders, because that makes for good TV. At the same time, we’ve spent some words on this blog talking about gluten free products and health. Mostly it’s been me complaining about how most all gluten free breads are made of starch and rice flour.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure that I’ll say it again. If I could eat wheat, I would. First off, there are some items that you can’t get gluten free. Like a good brioche, a divine sourdough, or good bagels. Second, there is a reason wheat has been cultivated and eaten by mankind for all time: It’s good for you. Whole wheat is high in protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins. It’s an aid to digestion, and has countless culinary uses.

The segment on Dr. Oz struck me as having a dual personality. On one hand, Dr. Oz kept talking about how gluten does cause inflammatory problems in people who are sensitive to it. He even went so far as to recommend that people who have inflammatory symptoms try a two week elimination diet to see if they might have a sensitivity. But then he kept bashing the diet as being unhealthy and fattening.

It was interesting to hear the list of health problems associated with gluten sensitivity. Among the items I heard mentioned were fatigue, inflammation, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, and even heart disease and cancer. Also, they mentioned that the inflammation caused by gluten can increase the insulin in your body, which can lead to weight problems, among other things.

Also interesting, there is a one week diet plan on the Dr. Oz website, here. Also, he has a couple of pages on celiac disease and gluten, here.

In the end, I did appreciate the show, although I thought that it sensationalized the subject matter in a way that may not have been very productive. It is a bit of a double-edged sword. I wouldn’t recommend a gluten-free diet to anybody who doesn’t need to be on it. BUT, for those of us who do, it’s truly life-changing. AND, just because something is gluten free, it doesn’t mean that it’s not junk food.


  1. says

    I love that he based the diet for being “unhealthy and fattening”. Certainly, by eating primarily meats, vegetables, and fruits I’m going to get fatter than folks who go out for fast food all the time (which I largely cannot eat due to gluten). It might be true if all you did was substitute items 1 for 1, but then you wouldn’t *actually* be improving your diet!

  2. says

    I lost 70 pounds – and about forty in four months – simply by cutting out wheat. At the time, I was also injured, so it wasn’t exercise. So in my experience, the only change I made was stopping wheat – I didn’t change anything else – and I had weight loss happen as a side effect. My quitting wheat was due to sudden onset of a severe allergy – nothing I could control. I didn’t eat more or less sugar, more or less fruits or veggies, etc. I did not, admittedly, eat much gluten-free pre-made snack food, bread, and the only cereal I ate was gluten-free puffed rice. But I think Dr. Oz’s remarks only really apply if you’re eating a lot of “replacement” convenience items instead of finding good whole-food things for bread etc. And it certainly didn’t happen like that for me! I’m smaller now than I was in high school.

  3. Mike says

    I would love to eat Wheat my favorite food is fried flour – oh how I “jones” for a Joes Donut!!!

    But having recently found out about Celiac it has been a great change health wise to be Gluten Free but this diet is for health.

    I felt Dr. Oz made it seem like people do this deit like people do Adkins or Paleo.

    I really want to thank you for the Blog and website, and I will stop complaining.

  4. says

    Ah! what a crazy week for celiacs. I was appalled by Dr. Oz’s segment and, quite frankly, thought it was ridiculously disorganized – like Dr. Hyman and Dr. Oz were working two different shows. I couldn’t help but write a reaction up… thanks for the heads up. By the way, did you also catch the news about the supposed ‘chef’ who was feeding his diners regular pasta and calling it “gluten free”?

  5. Dom says

    Cut wheat, loose weight?

    I gained about 20 lbs after dating my celiac husband. He’ll say I was emaciated before, but I wasn’t. I ate. ALL THE TIME.

    I was vegan, weight about 115lbs. Couldn’t figure out the protein substitutes that were wheat free, introduced dairy/eggs/fish to my diet (wheat free house, of course) and have gained weight since returning to animal products.

  6. says

    I can relate to Jeanine. When I stopped consuming wheat/gluten (I had also given up dairy at the same time) my weight began to gradually drop from that change alone. I have known others to have this same experience. My thoughts are that, for the average person with no intollerance/allergy to wheat/gluten this does not bring about weight loss. However, if your body can not tolerate these foods then damage is being done to your digestive system and this can and will cause the body to respond in a variety of ways – including retention. Many people who have issue with wheat/gluten see weight loss after giving up foods containing them because their digestive systems begin functioning properly and their bodies become healthier as a result. While I do not support Dr. Oz’s position on this matter – I see where he may have been coming from. There seems to be a trend (in Hollywood) of going gluten free. For people who don’t need to be – this is not a healthful decision. Because there are so many gluten free products made with what I call ‘fluff’ or ‘filler’ type ingredients, I work to create recipes that maximize whole foods, nutrition and complexity. There are many things to consider when supplementing a gluten free or dairy free or other type of allergy diet. Thanks for highlighting this issue!

    • Dave says

      It’s interesting to see so many people having different experiences when quitting gluten. A person I know who was able to eat anything he wanted to and as much as he wanted to without gaining weight. Then he was diagnosed with celiac and stopped eating gluten. Now he is feeling much better, but as an unfortunate side-effect, he has to watch what he eats because he’ll gain weight.

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