Some people have celiac disease and are instructed to avoid eating gluten, a protein found in certain grains. However, food manufacturers market gluten-free products to the general public as if gluten was detrimental for everybody. Are there proven health benefits of avoiding gluten for those without celiac disease?
There are two main reasons why foods are made (or advertised) as gluten free. In short it is partially to meet the needs of a small but growing group of people who are allergic to gluten and also to catch people who are taking part in the gluten free fad.
Celiac disease -- also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy -- is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten are eaten. Gluten is a form of protein found in some grains. The damage to the intestine makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folate.
This is something that can be a very serious issue for people that have it
Celiac disease can leave a person susceptible to other health problems, including:
Osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and leads to fractures. This occurs because the person has trouble absorbing enough calcium and vitamin D. Miscarriage or infertility. Birth defects, such as neural tube defects (improper formation of the spine) caused by poor absorption of such nutrients as folic acid. Seizures. Growth problems in children because they don't absorb enough nutrients. Cancer of the intestine (very rare).
People with one of these conditions need to avoid all foods with gluten in them in order to avoid the effects of the condition
The second reason that food are made this way are because going gluten free has become a fad and food manufacturers are just cashing in on the latest trend.
Now when it comes to gluten free food there are some things that you need to remember. First there are types of gluten free food.
- Foods that are naturally gluten free and just need to be advertised as such
- Foods that have gluten in them but easy changes can be made to remove it
- Foods that have are based primarily on gluten based products and need to be changed drastically in order to be gluten free.
The reason that knowledge is important is that people who have a sensitivity to gluten can easily have issue from cross contamination. An example of this would be if a pizza place was making a gluten free pizza but they used the sauce and ladle that is used on normal pizza which will bring in contaminates to the gluten free food.