What’s behind the gluten-free trend?

September 16, 2016 — Not many years ago, the letters “GF” on restaurant menus might have confused many people. no longer.

Today, the gluten-free lifestyle has become one of the most popular dietary trends in the United States, with one in five people now reducing or eliminating gluten, a type of gluten found in wheat, barley or rye. of protein, according to a 2015 Gallup poll, in their diets.

Avoiding gluten is essential for people with celiac disease. That’s because in them, gluten damages the small intestine and nutrients cannot be absorbed. Its symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and pain.

But only about 1 percent of the population has celiac disease, and that number hasn’t changed in recent years, says Hyun-seok Kim, MD, a physician at Rutgers University Wholesale School of Medicine in Newark. . In a study released earlier this month, he looked at a national survey conducted from 2009 to 2014. Although celiac disease numbers remained stable during that time, the number of people on a gluten-free diet tripled, from 0.5% of the population to nearly 2%.

Some people who follow a gluten-free diet without a diagnosis of celiac disease may be sensitive to non-celiac disease gluten, the study’s researchers said. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity have similar symptoms but do not have celiac disease. People who are allergic to wheat can also prevent allergic reactions through diet.

But does anyone else need gluten free?

Who is gluten free and why?

In 2015, nearly 100 million Americans said they consumed gluten-free products, said William F. Balistreri, MD, a physician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Americans spent an estimated $4 billion on gluten-free products in 2015, he said.

Kim’s study found that women were more likely than men to avoid gluten, and the diet was more popular between the ages of 20 and 39-years old. It is also popular among world-class athletes. In another survey, 41 percent of 910 world-class athletes and Olympic medalists said they followed a gluten-free diet at least half the time, and most self-diagnosed their sensitivity to gluten. According to reports, many gluten-free stars include Gwyneth Paltrow, Russell Crowe and Kim Kardashian.

“It’s a fad diet,” says Peter Green, MD, MD, of the Columbia University Celiac Disease Center, who has written a book on gluten . “People want a quick fix to a problem, and diet is often used as a quick fix.”

Many healthcare professionals, such as nutritionists and psychiatrists, advise people who have not been diagnosed with celiac disease People promote the diet, Green said. One of his executives without celiac disease told him that his life coach recommended gluten-free. He suspects the link to celiac disease makes the gluten-free diet medically legitimate, so healthcare professionals may feel obligated to recommend it.

Who really needs gluten free and does it help?

If you have celiac disease, a gluten-free diet can ease bloating and intestinal problems, says Kim. While people who self-diagnose gluten sensitivity report similar relief, Kim says more research is needed. In one study, people with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) reported that a gluten-free diet helped their symptoms, Balistreri noted, though more research is needed.

According to a review of Kim’s study, people also reported that they lost weight after avoiding gluten. But the Celiac Disease Foundation says a gluten-free diet may actually lead to weight gain. In people with celiac disease, as the gut heals on a gluten-free diet, more nutrients are absorbed into the body, and gluten-free foods may also be higher in sugar and fat.

But Alessio Fasano, MD, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital, said, “Everyone affected by gluten-related disorders, including those with celiac disease, wheat allergies and non-celiac gluten sensitivity Sex, should be gluten-free”

While not all healthcare professionals agree, Fasano says gluten sensitivity is definitely real: “The debate is, what is it and How many people are affected by it.

Sensitivity to gluten in wheat may not be the whole story, some experts say. Wheat contains gluten and malabsorbed carbohydrates that can give you gas. Restricting these carbs is good for People with irritable bowel syndrome are helpful. This includes cutting out wheat, rye, lactose, fructose, apples, and other gaseous fruits. Other research has also found that those who self-reported less People with gluten sensitivity improved on a gluten-free diet, but improved even more without eating these carbs.

People who don’t eat gluten may also suggest that others just eat more Healthy. Many highly processed foods contain gluten, and eliminating them may help people feel better.

Gluten-Free: Disadvantages

While a gluten-free diet can help people with the following It’s a life-saving celiac disease for people with celiac disease,” Green said, and for those without medical indications, “We don’t think a gluten-free diet is a very healthy diet. … It’s low in fiber and usually It’s high in fat and calories.”

It also puts people at risk of nutritional deficiencies, Green said. “Wheat flours are fortified. They add folic acid, [other] B vitamins and iron. Rice flours are the backbone of gluten-free foods, but not. We’ve seen people with B vitamin deficiencies.” Converts to fuel, helps repair cells, and has other important roles. A gluten-free diet isn’t always easy to follow, Green said. These products are usually more expensive than products that contain gluten.

Furthermore, Fasano said, parents should not put their children on a gluten-free diet without a medical reason.

“If the child does not have celiac disease or [a wheat] allergy, there is no reason to go on a gluten-free diet,” he said. People who go on a gluten-free diet without a medical need often think they’re making healthy lifestyle choices, but they could be harming their health, Green said.

In an op-ed he co-authored for the Los Angeles Times, he wrote: “Gluten-free hipsters don’t seem to realize that in the At the same time, they also exclude a lot of nutrients that keep them out of the doctor’s office, not inside.”