The Truth About Gluten

April 26, 2015 4:16 AM

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Health crazes and diet trends may come and go, but every so often there are advances in the nutrition and medical field that are true game changers. For decades, individuals diagnosed with celiac disease were simply characterized with ghastly gastrointestinal problems, but with further research, this multisystemic autoimmune disorder is now known to be caused by permanent intolerance to gluten, predominantly found in genetically-susceptible individuals. Gluten is the main storage protein of wheat, rye and barley. While gluten is mainly found in foods, shockingly it is even an ingredient in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, lip balms, play dough, toothpastes, and adhesives. Gluten wears many hats -- it provides elasticity to dough, acts as a binder in many recipes, adds flavor and protein, and lends that much-beloved chewy texture to delicious baked goods. With the increasing diagnosis of celiac disease in America, the demand for gluten-free products has skyrocketed. The food industry has strongly met those demands by putting out numerous gluten-free products, making life easier for those with a sensitivity to gluten. But those burdened by this disease are not the only ones scooping the gluten-free brownies off the shelves. Health conscious individuals are buying them too. So should you reach for your inner gluten freedom as well?

While doctors estimate just 1 percent of the population have celiac disease, marketers estimate that about 30 percent of consumers want gluten-free foods. Why? Surprisingly, even if you don't have a full-fledged gluten intolerance, you still may be slightly sensitive to it, causing symptoms ranging ...

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