New science shows gluten-free trend is expensive

Gluten-free is a load of crock.

According to a new study, there are zero health benefits to eating a gluten-free diet for most people.

What’s more, they’re shelling out two-to-three times more cash to follow the needless trend.

Take Matt Hopper, a 32-year-old nurse in Washington, DC, who gave up gluten and stopped eating bread and pasta in 2011. He says his health didn’t improve — but he lost a lot of dough.

At the time, Hopper was working part time at Whole Foods and suffering from various stomach issues. As he watched the shelves fill up with trendy gluten-free products, he wondered if they could be the cure for what ailed him.

“All these celebrities were talking about going gluten-free and how healthy it was,” Hopper tells The Post. “So I just sort of self-diagnosed myself.”

For a year, he stopped eating gluten — proteins found in certain grains such as wheat, rye and barley — but his stomach problems persisted.

“I didn’t feel any better in terms of energy or the way my GI system was reacting to food,” he says. The only major change he noticed was the economic burden of spending “an extra $100 or so a month” on groceries for “flourless chocolate cakes.”

The American gluten-free-products market was valued at $2.7 billion in 2018, according to a 2019 report by Research and Markets. On Instagram, the #glutenfree hashtag has nearly 28 million posts. Best-selling books call out grains as “silent killers” and promise that nixing them is “your path back to health.”

But for the vast majority of people, the diet is just expensive BS. Gluten-free foods cost up to 139% more than mass-market wheat-based products, researchers say.

Matt Hopper
Matt HopperRon Sachs – CNP

The study published in this month’s Gastroenterology journal by researchers at the University of Sheffield in England found that eating gluten-containing flour is safe for healthy people. It is the first-ever double-randomized controlled trial to prove so, even though experts have been saying as much for years.

“It was myth-busting,” Dr. David Sanders, professor of gastroenterology at the University of Sheffield and one of the study’s authors, tells The Post. “There are no negative effects of gluten if you don’t have any symptoms of celiac,” an immune disease that can be determined via blood tests and a biopsy, “or non-celiac gluten sensitivity,” in which patients test negative for celiac but improve with gluten avoidance. Both are uncommon.

“I see patients every day who are on a gluten-free diet and don’t need to be,” says Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl, a gastroenterologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in Washington Heights. In some cases, he notes, patients are experiencing stomach problems, but they may be due to irritable bowel syndrome or other issues.

Kasey Cook
Kasey CookInstagram/@kaseylcook

Rebecca Ditkoff, a Manhattan-based registered dietitian, says that patients often ask her if they should drop gluten to lose weight. She urges them not to.

“People think gluten-free food is healthier, but in many cases, it is actually less healthy,” she says — those foods are often more processed, higher in fat and sugar and lower in fiber than their glutinous counterparts.

Kasey Cook, 34, initially thought she felt better after giving up gluten this past August, but then her digestive issues returned.

“After about a week the same stomach symptoms I had been having came right back,” says the Vermont-based health and fitness coach. So, she started eating gluten again and went to the doctor to get tested for allergies. She’s still awaiting the results.

Hopper, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out what’s behind his GI troubles. But he’s glad to be back to eating normal pasta.

“I just missed eating delicious foods,” he says.