You've probably heard of a gluten-free diet, as the diet is more trendy these days than ever. But what exactly does it mean to "go gluten-free?" NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
You see it everywhere from grocery stores to restaurants. Going gluten-free is easier than ever, and it's also more trendy than ever. But what does it mean to go gluten-free?
"A gluten-free diet is intended for patients with celiac disease," says Dr. Lauren Schwartz, assistant professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. "These patients have an inflammatory condition of the small intestine that's triggered by an immune reaction against gluten, and that results in injury to the intestinal lining."
Schwartz says that people with celiac disease have no choice but to cut out gluten because they're allergic to the protein found in wheat, rye and barley.
Nowadays, though, it seems like so many people are going gluten-free, and many without celiac claim to find relief. But why?
"There is a new entity that is emerging called gluten sensitivity, and patients with this condition can have similar symptoms, diarrhea, gas bloat, abdominal pain, even fatigue and foggy head, but they don't have the clear-cut diagnostic criteria that we look for in celiac disease," Schwartz says. "So as a result, many patients are adopting this type of diet because they simply feel better."
Only about 1 percent of the population has celiac disease, and about 6 percent are gluten sensitive. So what about all the other people going gluten-free?
Laura Manning is a registered dietitian who says that for many, gluten-free is the new fad diet.
"It's the new fad right now, and it's reminiscent of the '90s, where we did a lot of low-fat eating with lots of cookies and Snackwells and so forth," Manning says. "Essentially, you may be just be replacing one calorie with another, and it may not be successful."
She says what will help with weight loss is consumption. Many of us overindulge in wheat products, and simply scaling back may have a greater impact on weight.
If you think you may have celiac or a gluten sensitivity, you should see a doctor, but don't start a gluten-free diet before that because the diet could throw off your test results.
The bottom line is, gluten-free may be right for those with a medical need, but if you're looking to lose a few pounds, losing the gluten just isn't the answer.