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Suppressing gluten consumption can have adverse effects on healthy people

Some gluten-free products incorporate less protein and fiber, and more saturated fat and sodium than their gluten-containing counterparts, says Dr. Beatriz Navia.

15 Dec 2021

Despite the fact that the celiac population currently represents less than 1% in Spain, according to data from the Ministry of Health, the market for gluten-free products continues to grow. This is due, among other factors, to the widespread belief in recent years that eliminating this element from the diet of healthy people has positive effects on health and promotes weight loss. However, there is still no scientific evidence to support such claims, says Incerhpan (Interprofessional Organization of Bread Cereals and Derivatives).

As Beatriz Navia, PhD in Pharmacy and professor at the Department of Nutrition and Food Science of the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), points out, there is no evidence that eliminating gluten has beneficial results for the health of the healthy population, but quite the opposite. "There are studies that have proven that some gluten-free products have less protein and fiber, and more sodium and especially saturated fat than their counterparts with gluten. In addition, if the gluten-free diet is not well planned, the intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals and even the benefits associated with the consumption of whole grains can be lost," he points out. 

On the other hand, there are different epidemiological studies that have highlighted the role of whole grain cereals in health care. "Benefits that seem to be due not only to the nutritional value of these foods, with a large amount of fiber, minerals and vitamins, but also to the phytochemicals - polyphenols, carotenoids, alkylresorcinols, etc. - present in them, and which are found, above all, in the bran and germ of the cereal grain," explains Navia.