Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gluten Free

Gluten is the common name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale grains that cause allergic reactions and digestive difficulty for those diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. A little over 3 million people in the United States have celiac disease, but only approximately 200,000 cases have been diagnosed, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

Of course, celiacs are far from the only demographic group interested in gluten-free products. A growing number of people are choosing a gluten-free diet for a host of reasons—ranging from believing that they are sensitive to gluten to a willingness to try anything to help them look and feel healthier. When people seek medical help because they are feeling drained of energy or are suffering from digestive problems or other chronic health issues, health practitioners—particularly naturopaths and acupuncturists—will often prescribe elimination diets to determine whether food is at the root of their symptoms. Gluten is usually the first food to be removed, followed by other common food allergens, including casein (the protein found in milk and cheese), soy, corn, peanuts and nuts. In addition, some people believe going gluten free relieves some of the symptoms of conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and fibromyalgia.

As attention on celiac disease increases and awareness grows of the health benefits associated with a gluten-free or low-gluten diet, many manufacturers are adding gluten-free options to their product lines. The FDA is currently in the process of developing gluten-free labeling standards.

-Delicious Living Magazine, Week of April 20, 2011