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Your fad diet may be doing more harm than good

HOUSTON – New health fads pop up every day, and there’s never a shortage of people jumping on the bandwagon. But how much do we really know about how good or bad these health trends are? You may be surprised to learn that some of these health fads can actually hurt you.

The number of Americans who are gluten-free has tripled in the last decade. If you’re not allergic to it, Amitava Dasgupta, PhD, toxicologist, UT Health Science Center, Houston says avoiding gluten could be harmful. 

“If you don’t have a gluten allergy, there is no need to go for gluten-free food,” stated Dasgupta.

Low gluten diets are linked to type 2 diabetes and heart disease as well as deficiencies in iron, folate and fiber.

Juicing can be dangerous too. Juices are packed with calories and sugar, with none of the fiber in whole fruit. Research shows juicing ups the risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

“There is no scientific evidence that juice can cleanse the body from toxins,” continued Dasgupta.

Doctors also worry about the rise of coconut oil, a saturated fat. 

Internal medicine Dr. Jim Shoemaker, with Saint Louis University said, “First of all, it’s a source of fat and calories that most people don’t need. It just makes you fat.”

It also causes a toxic reaction in the liver. Shoemaker says your body is actually programmed to defend against it.

“I think taking extra coconut oil is not a good idea,” stated Shoemaker.

He doesn’t think vitamins and supplements are a good idea either.

“I think people really might be exposing themselves to dangers by taking excess vitamins,” Shoemaker said.

Excess vitamins make proteins less soluble in cellular fluid, leading to protein aggregation. 

“When the proteins aggregate or stick to each other or ‘misfold’, that causes diseases like Alzheimer’s and, interestingly, also diseases like type 2 diabetes,” said Shoemaker.

Unless you’re deficient in a particular vitamin and your doctor prescribes it to you, Shoemaker said “it’s probably not wise to take these extra supplements and vitamins."

We spoke to several medical experts and they all agreed that most people get plenty of vitamins and minerals from their diet and do not need to take supplements at all unless they have a true vitamin deficiency.

Contributors to this news report include: Stacie Overton-Johnson, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Rusty Reed and Bruce Maniscalco, Videographers.