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Twenty years ago nobody talked about gluten. Now a lot of restaurants offer a gluten-free menu, you can shop for gluten-free bread and other products in supermarkets, manufacturers label their foods “gluten-free” and “may contain gluten”.
30% of Americans say they try to avoid gluten. The United States gluten-free products market is estimated to reach $18 billion by 2025. While the US leads the trend, other countries are also catching up.
Going gluten-free does not mean simply excluding wheat-based bread and bakery. Gluten can be found in a range of products: pasta, fried foods, soy sauce, food starch, candies, etc.
What’s the deal? Why are people around the world so eager to stay away from gluten? Well, there are some people who truly can't eat gluten as they have celiac disease or wheat allergies. People with such disorders are forced to follow a strict gluten-free diet. But the thing is, that’s only a tiny fraction of the population: about 1% of people worldwide have celiac disease, and up to 6% have sensitivity to gluten.
What about all other people who adopt a gluten-free diet? Well, they’ve been led to believe it’s a healthy way to eat which helps lose weight. Despite the claims, there is no credible evidence that eliminating gluten will help you lose weight. On the contrary, research has shown that a gluten-free diet may actually cause people to gain weight!
The fact is, gluten-free isn’t necessarily healthy. Gluten-free products often have extra sugar and fat to make them taste better. Besides, they are often loaded with cornflour and rice which are high on the glycemic index (GI). Such foods turn into glucose very quickly, so people with diabetes should be careful with gluten-free alternative products.
But a great deal of people report that they actually feel better after cutting gluten from their diets, so it must be a healthy diet indeed? Perhaps following this diet urged those people to eat fewer processed foods and more healthy home-made meals. Maybe their improved condition has nothing to do with gluten after all.
To sum up, going gluten-free provides no known health benefits for the general population. Researchers say following a gluten-free diet can even do more harm than good. But for people with real gluten-related disorders, a wide variety of gluten-free alternatives makes their life much easier and happier