The media and celebrity world are raving about gluten-free diets, but is it worth doing?
Food allergies have become very trendy in the last few years, none more so than the gluten allergy. With celebrities such as Miley Cyrus encouraging fans to embrace gluten-free foods, it is no surprise that one in four people in the US are seeking a gluten-free diet. A popular book entitled 'G-Free Diet' also claims that gluten-free eating is healthy and can help with weight loss, despite there being no scientific research to support this. The trend is now hitting Europe, with food industries claiming that gluten-free diets can cure ADHD (amongst other things)... but experts are asking, is it really necessary?
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as rye, barley and wheat, (present in foods such as bread and pasta). This protein can cause coeliac disease in some people, however, there is usually a strong genetic component involved. Earlier this year coeliac specialists created a consensus paper arguing that people can have a sensitivity to gluten, without having the disease.
Many people have begun to self-diagnose gluten sensitivity and are cutting it out of their diets as a precaution. Experts are warning people against this, as there is no definitive test for sensitivity and the person may, in fact, have a serious coeliac disorder but are incorrectly attributing their symptoms to a gluten allergy. Further tests should be carried out to ensure there are no other reasons for the symptoms. Cutting out gluten without reasonable cause also restricts diets and reduces vitamin intake.
If you think you may be suffering from gluten sensitivity, visit your doctor for further testing. Many gluten-free foods have high levels of sugar and fat to make them more palatable, so don't follow the fad without good reason.
If you think you may have a food allergy, you may find it helpful to speak to a nutritionist about your diet. For more information please see our Food Allergy and Food Intolerance page.
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