Another reason people may feel the inclination to followa gluten-free diet is the placebo effect. The placebo effect is definedas a substance or treatment with no active therapeutic effects. An individualmay believe that they are seeing results and deceived into thinking that it isan active treatment.r1 This idea can be applied to agluten-free diet as an individual may believe in their head that removing glutenfrom their diet is healthier and convince themselves that they are experiencingpositive effects from it when it’s in fact just a result of the placebo effect.
In a double-blind study, conducted in 2015, thirteen competitive cyclistswere recruited. For one week, they were strictly eating a gluten-freediet and told to continue exercising normally. The cyclists, thefollowing week, a diet with gluten in it and continued to train as they hadbeen. The cyclist’s training information, such as time, heart rate, andother fitness indicators, were recorded.
At the end of the study, it wasconcluded that the times and other training information recorded during thestudy did not vary during the week with gluten and the week without (Reynolds,2016). Whilethis study was short and has not been replicated at this time it gives a goodlook at what could lead to further studies. r2 In this study, there was no differencefrom when the athletes were eating gluten and when they had removed gluten, andsince the athletes were unaware of which week they were eating gluten and whichweek they were not, the placebo effect was not a factor in this study. These athletesand celebrities praise the gluten-free diet and the positive effects they see,but we can’t be sure whether their results are in fact real. r3 This leads to the logical conclusion,that while athletic performance might increase under a gluten-free diet, it ismost likely due to the placebo effect and not the actual act of cutting glutenout of your diet.
One ofthe several issues related to the gluten-free diet is the increased cost offood. Since gluten-free food cannot be cross contaminated, it must gothrough a more extensive manufacturing process. This requires that allgluten-free food be manufactured in specifically gluten-free production plants. Since the equipment cannot be used for anything other than gluten-freeproducts, this drastically adds to the cost of producing gluten-free foods. Reports show that “creating gluten-free food can be 242% more costly thancreating regular food” (Tucker, 2016). There are also a significantnumber of regulations that gluten-free producers must abide by.
Theseregulations include “Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), NationalFoundation for Celiac Awareness Gluten-Free Certification Program (NFCA), TheInternational Certification Services (ICS), Celiac Sprue Association Seal ofRecognition (CSA), and the Gluten-Free Standards Organization (GFSA)” (Tucker,2016). Appeasing all these different organizations is a difficult task aseach brings their own regulations and standards. Given that each productmust obtain the approval from at least two of these regulations, and that sincethey are unique to gluten-free, they are harder and costlier. This addsto the difficulty in gaining the gluten-free label and again results in highercosts. While these higher costs might be okay for celebrities such as TomBrady, Miley Cyrus, and Kourtney Kardashian, for the average everyday Americanthese costs can be tough to afford. For example, a Canadian studyconducted in 2011 found that gluten-free products cost on average 242% morethan products with gluten. A similar study conducted by Britishresearchers in 2011 found that “gluten-free products were 76% to 518% moreexpensive than their wheat-based counterparts” (Reuters, 2014).
Inconjunction that most manufacturers are not eager to sell gluten-free foods dueto the lack of demand, it becomes abundantly clear as to why gluten-free foodsare costlier. This poses a serious issue for working-class Americans, asthe benefits are either minor or nonexistent, and the costs are astronomicallyhigher.