Is The Gluten Free Diet A Fad? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 December 2011 19:30
Not long ago, the phrase “gluten free” was one relegated to health food stores and medical clinics, the sole concern of an unlucky few diagnosed with a gluten-intolerant condition known as Celiac disease and forced to scavenge the grocery isles for the few mass-marketed products made without the seemingly ubiquitous wheat protein. But today, as noted in a recent piece for the New York Times magazine, gluten-free has gone the way of big business – infiltrating major companies like General Mills and, according to some figures, constituting a nearly $6.3 billion industry.

In addition to Celiacs, whose numbers throughout the U.S. and Europe continue to rise, athletes and even perfectly healthy individuals are latching on to the gluten-free lifestyle – claiming greater energy and vitality as a result of eliminating the tough-to-digest wheat protein that shows up in everything from bread to beer to breakfast cereal. Over the past few years, high-profile advocates like tennis superstar Novak Djokovic have turned gluten-free living into a full-blown fad. And while many doctors flatly deny any advantage to going gluten-free for those without a gluten allergy, others maintain that, given the widespread and growing prevalence of at least some form of gluten intolerance, individuals suffering from unexplained poor health or autoimmune deficiencies can consider cutting out gluten as a possible route to greater vitality and overall wellness.

With a rising number of gluten-free products lining the shelves at supermarkets across the country and proponents of the diet infiltrating everything from daytime television to professional sports, it can be difficult for consumers to determine whether or not the lifestyle is a genuine key to greater health, or simply the latest in a never-ending string of wellness trends. Opinions differ across medical specialties; but as specialists in the treatment of autoimmune disorders, the Institute for Specialized Medicine believe that since no human can completely digest gluten, many people do benefit from going gluten-free – especially those with an undiagnosed allergy or intolerance, or those who are living with other autoimmune disease besides Celiac.

Often times, eliminating gluten from one’s diet helps lessen the adverse effects of these diseases: and while the gluten-free diet is by no means a “miracle cure” for universal health, it is recommend that if you are feeling unwell, it is worth cutting out gluten to see if your condition improves.

Source: Shikhman, A. (2011), "The gluten-free diet: a passing trend – or a trick for universal health and heightened vitality?", La Jolla Light

 
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