The increased popularity of gluten free diets begs the question: Is it due to an increase in celiac disease or the latest diet fad?
Americans are known for fads. From hoola-hoops to the diet plan of the week, the country has an appetite for novelty. There is also the powerful and pervasive force of advertising that pushes candidates for popularity. It’s no wonder that sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between a real medical issue and a fad; case in point, the gluten free diet.
There is a lot of bad weight loss information on the internet. Much of what is recommended is questionable at best, and not based on any actual science. However, there are several natural methods that have actually been proven to work.
Gluten is a protein composite of gliadin and glutelin produced naturally in grains including wheat, barley, and rye. For centuries, gluten has been part of the human diet through cereals or baked goods made from these grains. A few people have an allergic sensitivity to wheat, and for them avoiding baked goods and other grain-derived products require the same kind of vigilance as people with other serious allergic reactions.
Then there is celiac disease, where people suffer from chronic diarrhea and fatigue. It’s a disease with a genetic predisposition and is triggered by a reaction to the gliadin protein in gluten. Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction, where components in gliadin (peptides) put the immune system into action.
That causes inflammation, especially in the small intestine, which can be at a very low level for a long time as it slowly affects the ability to absorb nutrients.
It’s not fully known how widespread celiac disease may be. For example, estimates for the United States range between a few hundred thousand to over two million. Because it is often chronic, low level, and has many symptoms in common with other digestive illnesses, celiac disease does not diagnose easily. Continue Reading