Gluten-free is going DOWN

The majority of gluten-free foods are junk foods.

People with celiac disease experience intestinal destruction and a multitude of other inflammatory conditions due to an immune response gone haywire. The disease  is debilitating and can be fatal unless all gliadin/gluten sources are eliminated, such as wheat, barley, and rye.

A gluten-free food industry to provide foods minus gliadin/gluten has emerged, now large enough to become an important economic force. Even some Big Food companies are getting into the act, like Kraft, that now lists foods they consider gluten-free.

So we have gluten-free breads, cupcakes, scones, pretzels, breakfast cereals, crackers, bagels, muffins, pancake mixes and on and on. All are made with ingredients like brown rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, and potato starch. Occasionally, they are made with amaranth, teff, or quinoa, other less popular, but gluten-free, grains.

Problem: These gluten-free ingredients, while lacking gliadin and gluten, make you fat and diabetic. They increase visceral fat, cause blood sugar to skyrocket higher than nearly all other foods (even higher than wheat, which is already pretty bad), trigger formation of small LDL and triglycerides, and are responsible for exaggerated postprandial (after-eating) lipoprotein distortions. They cause heart disease, cataracts, arthritis, and a wide range of other conditions, all driven by the extreme levels of glycation they generate.

Eliminating all things wheat from the diet is one of the most powerful health strategies I have ever witnessed. But replacing lost wheat with manufactured gluten-free foods is little better than replacing your poppyseed muffin with a bowl of jelly beans.

Whenever we've relied on the food industry to supply a solution, they've managed to bungle it. Saturated fat was replaced with hydrogenated fat and polyunsaturates; sucrose replaced with high-fructose corn syrup. Now, they are replacing wheat gluten-containing foods with junk carbohydrates.

For this reason, I am bringing out a line of recipes and foods that will be wheat gliadin/gluten-free, do NOT contain the junk carbohydrates that gluten-free foods are made of, and are genuinely healthy. They are tasty, to boot.

The gluten-free industry needs to smarten up. Having a following that is free of cramps and diarrhea but are obese, diabetic, and hobbling on arthritic knees and hips is good for nobody.

Comments (18) -

  • Howard

    6/16/2011 1:44:29 PM |

    I had to chuckle when I saw the Adsense ad on this post from "Honey Bunches of Oats".  I get that crap on my blog, too.

  • Carolyn Trammell

    6/16/2011 2:47:00 PM |

    This is such a good reminder to avoid processed foods even gluten free ones. I have to ask myself why these kinds of foods are so popular even though they are usually expensive. I guess they are convenient and easy to grab and go and make a sandwich for lunch. Maybe it is time to experiment with almond flour and see what kind of bread it makes. I have the flour but haven't tried it. It's all about daily habits and having the right kind of foods on hand. Processed carbs seem to have a calming effect too which might be why I want to reach for them when I am feeling stressed. I mean why would bagels and bread be so popular if there wasn't something soothing about chewing on them. I'll let you know if I come up with a suitable substitute using almond flour.
    Dr. Davis, thanks for your work and for sharing it with everyone. You are improving  quality of life for many people.

  • Karl

    6/16/2011 3:25:55 PM |

    Any hint if the "gluten-free" wheat products are lectin free?  My hunch is they are not - thus we probably should avoid all wheat foods.

    Wheat has changed quite a lot in the last 50 years - twice the lectin containing gluten.

  • John

    6/16/2011 4:40:00 PM |

    @Carolyn I've never used almond flour to make bread, never eat bread anymore, because of Dr. Davis's no wheat advice on this blog which is great.

    I have used almond flour to coat fish with and then pan sear in olive oil. Especially with trout, kind of like Trout Almondine.

    Tastes great too.

  • Tiana MacLeod

    6/16/2011 4:58:37 PM |

    Oh please bring your products to Canada... I went to a gluten free food fair and didn't really try any food. Nothing was healthy and I was not impressed! All they had were substitutes for foods you shouldn't even be eating anyways, noodles and brownies, breads and cupcakes.. they even had samples of Chex cereal.. Not worth my $5 spent at all!!

  • Anne

    6/16/2011 6:04:58 PM |

    I agree, there is too much junk food in the GF world but it seems that is what the majority of the GF people want to eat. People have told me that being GF is a big enough sacrifice and they don't want to be deprived of any more foods.

    When I stopped eating gluten it did not take me long to figure out that I felt better when I eliminated all grains and sugars. Gluten was easy because it made me feel so ill, but it took me a while to completely get off sugars and other grains and go primal.

    I am interested in seeing what foods and recipes you will be bringing out.

    Karl - from what I have read, all food contains lectins. Grains, legumes and nightshades have the highest amount. The Lowdown on Lectins

  • Dan

    6/17/2011 12:49:07 PM |

    They just can't get away from the notion that the body needs carbs and "healthy whole grains."  It's just more of what Kurt Harris calls "candy cigarettes."

  • Judy B

    6/17/2011 2:05:18 PM |

    This gluten-free food craze reminds me of an evening when I went to a vegan restaurant with a friend and the menu had a lot or"meat" dishes made out of various grains and tofu.  I had an allergic reaction to all the grains which my friend couldn't understand because all of the food was so "healthy"!

  • Tim

    6/17/2011 8:28:00 PM |

    Yeah, we were eating up some of the gluten-free foods, until I came across this blog and found out about cornstarch and potato starch, etc.  Most of the time, when they remove the gluten, they replace it with these kinds of ingredients.

    I know you're not crazy about grains, Dr. Davis, but what's your take on quinoa, since it is genetically a seed?

    Thanks for this blog, Dr. D!


  • Anne

    6/18/2011 5:47:27 PM |

    Reasons I don't eat quinoa - it spikes my blood sugar and saponins and lectins contribute to leaky gut. Wish it were not true.

  • Licia

    6/18/2011 10:09:21 PM |

    Thanks so much Dr. D for all the hard work you put into the info you provide here in your blog!!! It is very informative and I appreciate all your information.

    Please tell us more about your GF line of foods and when it will be coming out. Thanks so much!

  • Paul Lee

    6/21/2011 10:48:09 PM |

    You can't trust the food processors. This reminds me of the stuff produced by Atkins, its  a question of breaking away from this approach to eating entirely, and going back to "real foods." I'm interested in almond flour though. As an experiment I ground down a packet of walnut halves in the blender to make a cheesecake base and then mixed with melted butter which left in the fridge to set. Just don't grind them up too much to get a bit of "crunch." I guess almonds would do too.

  • Helen Howes

    6/29/2011 3:24:33 PM |

    This works for me (diabetic, on steroids, tested thoroughly) and my SO (celiac and ulcerative colitis)

    Low Carb Gluten-free  Bread Substitute

    Makes 8 pieces

    Melt 100g butter in the microwave or a pan
    Add 200g almond flour (ground almonds)

    Flavour to taste with all or some of
    Grated cheese
    Finely chopped onion
    Herbs (dried or fresh)
    Pine nuts
    Cashews etc etc

    Or for a sweet version, flavour with
    Cinnamon, nutmeg and/or ground ginger,
    Lemon or orange peel
    Pour the batter over fruit (eating apples, berries, plums, dried or fresh apricots) This adds to the carb count...

    Stir all very well and add one large or two medium eggs and a little milk or water to make a stiff batter (think cake-mix) For the sweet version make the batter a little thinner so that it pours nicely

    Decorate with flaked almonds if you like..

    Oil and flour (use cornflour or gram flour for gluten-free) a flat baking tin

    Bake for approx 35 minutes at 200c.  It’s done when a knife comes out clean

    Looks like flapjack, tastes like heaven

    Savoury version has around 4-6 g carbs per piece
    Sweet about 6-8 according to the fruit used

  • Sheryl

    6/29/2011 10:54:42 PM |

    I avoid gluten products as much as possible.  Now that I'm following The Glycemic Load Diet (by Dr. Rob Thompson), my grain intake is so limited anyway, that it's not a problem.

    I am very interested in low carb/gluten free products.  I notice the Atkins bake mix is full of gluten, and their pasta is laughable - full of gluten and too high a carb count for my liking

    Please bring us some healthy, gluten free products.  There is too much gluten free junk out there!

  • gluten free fruit cake

    7/6/2011 7:16:24 PM |

    There needs to be more gluten free recipes. Thanks for your efforts.

  • Gwen

    7/17/2011 1:59:04 PM |

    How does a thin person maintain a somewhat normal weight without consuming at least some grains?  Also, having hypoglycemia, I could not maintain any level of energy without ingesting some carbs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

  • Steve L.

    7/22/2011 5:36:54 AM |

    The gluten free industry will have to go into the animal husbandry or vegetable farming business to have a more beneficial impact.  I'm thinking they'll go down fighting instead.

"Heart Healthy" and other lies

"Heart Healthy" and other lies

"Bankers believe liquidation has run its course and advise purchases."

New York Times headline, Oct 30, 1929, at the start of the Great Depression.

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky."

Former President Bill Clinton at a Washington Press Conference, 1998.

"The third quarter is going to be great."

Enron CEO, Ken Lay, just before the company reported a $638 million third-quarter loss, triggering the company's collapse.

Should we add the following to the list?

Heart Healthy Bisquick

Heart Healthy snacks according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute:

Animal crackers, devil's food cookies, fig and other fruit bars, ginger snaps, graham crackers, vanilla or lemon wafers

Angel food cake or other lowfat cakes

Low fat frozen yogurt, ice milk, fruit ices, sorbet, sherbet

Pudding (make it with fat free or 1% milk), gelatin desserts

Popcorn without butter or oil; pretzels, baked tortilla chips

67% digestible carbohydrates/sugars from corn syrup, sugar, raisins, and honey. Oh, yes . . . and it contains plant sterols.

"Heartzels are a healthy snack alternative for anyone wanting to control fat intake and add fiber to their diet," said Tracy LaRosiliere, a Frito-Lay vice president of marketing. "What better time for Frito-Lay to launch its first heart-healthy snack than during American Heart Month and just in time for Valentine's Day."

The relationship with the American Heart Association and the launch of Rold Gold Heartzels Pretzels is the latest move by Frito-Lay to continue its commitment to offering a wide variety of low-fat and better-for-you snacks nationally, which like the company's assortment of regular chips can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Comments (7) -

  • Cindy Moore

    1/24/2008 3:02:00 AM |

    Sad....but not surprising.

    I'm on a diet web site that offers recipes. Many are labeled "healthy" or "heart healthy" because they contain less oil, no egg yolks, etc....but they are still using white flour, sugar (sometimes raw! lol)....and offer little more than carbohydrates with a tiny bit of protein and/or fat(often less than 10% total!). But they're "healthy" because they have little or no fat!

    And oh man the commercials about "healthy" whole grains!

  • Red Sphynx

    1/24/2008 4:30:00 PM |

    "Heartzels are a healthy snack alternative for anyone wanting to control fat intake and add fiber to their diet,".  

    Right.  Fiber knocks down total cholesterol.  What effect does it have on dense / fluffy / oxidized subtypes?

  • Anonymous

    1/24/2008 7:36:00 PM |

    Oh man, that would be a dream if Bisquick, with a little maple syrup poured on top, was heart healthy.  If true I'd have the healthiest cardiovascular system in America.

  • Anonymous

    1/25/2008 4:32:00 AM |

    Hi Dr Davis,
    Thought to pass on a cute story  for a chuckle.  Talking about how science can evolve and how all low fat foods were once considered heart healthy but today we are learning that is not the case - this morning my mother received a call from a friend saying that her doctor suggested she begin taking fish oil.  Knowing that my mom is following a heart healthy program, the friend called to ask which fish oil capsules to buy and if there is anything else worth taking.  Mom gave her suggestions of what to purchase and thought that was the end of the conversation.  A few hours later the friend called back to say her husband, an intelligent man as he is a retired University professor but also very much a grizzled guy, said she should not take that "crap" as probably in 5 years from now it will be found to cause prostate cancer.  The friend called to say she bought the suggested items, she was willing to take the risk.

  • wccaguy

    1/26/2008 1:54:00 PM |

    In George Orwell's, 1984,

    "The three slogans of the Party, on display everywhere, are

        * WAR IS PEACE

    Could "Heart Healthy" be added to the list?

    In keeping with times, evidently, the recently appointed Attorney General of the United States hangs a portrait of George Orwell in his office.  Honest.

    (paste two lines of link together)

  • Anonymous

    1/27/2008 12:09:00 AM |

    Great article in the New York Times:

    Shows that the word is getting out.

  • Dr. Davis

    1/27/2008 2:15:00 AM |

    As always, Gary Taubes cuts to the bone and makes clear, concise, no nonsense, and persuasive arguments.

    From this heated discussion, I predict that the number of small LDL particles as measured by NMR will emerge as the explanation behind the lukewarm value of Friedewald (calculated) LDL cholesterol.