Gwyneth Paltrow, Ryan Gosling and Jenny McCarthy are just some of the celebrities who have adopted a gluten-free diet – not necessarily because they have a gluten intolerance, but because they deem the diet to be healthier. As such, the diet seems to have become the latest “trend.” It is estimated that around 1.6 million people in the US follow a gluten-free diet without having been diagnosed with celiac disease – a severe gluten intolerance. But does this diet really benefit our health?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a combination of wheat and rye). It acts as a “glue” in foods such as cereal, bread and pasta, helping them hold their shape. Gluten can also be found in some cosmetic products, such as lip balm, and it is even present in that nasty tasting glue on the back of stamps and envelopes.
In some individuals, consuming gluten can cause illness. It is estimated that around 18 million people in the US have some form of gluten intolerance – referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) – causing symptoms such as bloating or gas, diarrhea, fatigue, headache and itchy skin rash.
Around 1 in 133 people in the US, or 1% of the population, have celiac disease – a more serious form of gluten intolerance. In celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune response that attacks the lining of the small intestine. This means the body is unable to effectively absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to anemia, delayed growth and weight loss.
Celiac disease can lead to other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), osteoporosis, infertility and neurological conditions if left untreated, and the only effective treatment for celiac disease is to adopt a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.
Source: Medical News Today