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Defy your age with Dr. Oz's weight loss secrets: Gluten-free diet debate

Dr. Oz discusses gluten-free diets.
Dr. Oz discusses gluten-free diets.Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Aging is as inevitable as taxes. But Dr. Mehmet Oz says that by choosing the right foods (and avoiding the wrong ones), you can look and feel younger. He revealed his newest weight loss secrets and weighed in on the gluten-free diet debate on his July 14 talk show.

Studies in both the United States and United Kingdom have shown that being obese causes you to age faster than smoking. Researchers found that obesity accelerated aging about nine years, compared to about four-and-a-half years for smoking. But in contrast to the traditional advice to go on a low-calorie diet to shed pounds, Dr. Oz says that eating too few calories actually slows down your metabolism.

Dr. Oz recommends consuming a minimum of 1,200 calories daily. Eat every three to four hours to boost your metabolism. He recommends eating protein at every meal and snack.

For example, you could enjoy veggies and eggs for breakfast. For a snack, nibble on a handful of almonds, which have healthy fats and keep you satisfied until your next meal.

But if you think that eating a lot of fruit benefits your diet, Dr. Oz advises caution. Emphasizing fruit rather than vegetables can cause your weight loss to stall. When you do eat fruit, choose low-sugar options such as strawberries and blueberries.

Have you gone on a gluten-free diet because you think that it ensures automatic weight loss? Unless you have celiac disease or have a medical reason for avoiding gluten, Dr. Oz proclaimed gluten-free diets to be a "scam."

He expressed concern that many processed gluten-free foods actually contain more calories and sugar,which means that you can gain weight by swapping food. If you do want to go gluten-free, he suggests eating nuts or seeds for snacks rather than gluten-free bars or cookies.

Despite his proclamation on his show that gluten-free diets are "scams," Dr. Oz recently featured several experts on his show who advised everyone to avoid wheat and other grains.

Dr. David Perlmutter, a renowned neurologist, told Dr. Oz that avoiding grain can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. He appeared several times to discuss his book and the science as well as the studies that support it: "Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers."

Dr. William Davis, creator of the "Wheat Belly" diet, views wheat as the cause of problems ranging from obesity to brain fog. He recently talked with Dr Oz about his concern that what he has termed "Frankenwheat" has permeated many foods. Dr. Davis has even authored a cookbook that eliminates wheat while allowing foods such as doughnuts.

Yet gluten-free diets have become increasingly controversial. While some say that everyone can benefit from going gluten-free, others argue that unless you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, you can benefit from the fiber in all types of whole grains.

So who should go on a gluten-free diet? Daniel Leffler, director of research at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, has determined that the number of people with celiac disease is doubling every three decades. However, "most people who are on the gluten-free diet don't have celiac disease," he told the Hamilton Spectator in a July 14 interview.

He estimates that two to three million Americans are on gluten-free diets. About 10 percent of those individuals has celiac disease. Ironically, he added, "most people who have celiac disease don't know that they have it and don't eat gluten-free."

What is known, as Dr. Oz noted: Gluten-free food products are on the rise, and companies are raking in the profits. Market research firm NPD Group conducted a survey and found that about one-third of adults are trying to reduce their intake of gluten.

And despite Leffler's view that the number of people with celiac disease is increasing, other experts say that the number has remained the same. Only one in 133 people in the United States has celiac disease according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

What is known: Going gluten-free has become more expensive. Gluten-free foods are 242 percent more expensive than regular products, according to a survey reported on July 14 by MetroWest Daily News.

Is it possible to make a gluten-free wheat? One problem is that no government subsidies exist for gluten-free wheat. In contrast, in 2012, the federal government shelled out more than one billion dollars on wheat subsidies.