Why are people following a gluten-free diet?

By Lisa Cantkier According to MarketWatch Radio, part of MarketWatch– a leading innovator in business news, which is published by Dow Jones & Co., and tracks the pulse of markets for engaged investors, the gluten-free diet will be “the popular trend diet of 2013.” OK, that doesn’t sound like news (it’s been reported that “gluten free” was one of the most searched terms on Google in 2012), and let’s add “that’s here to stay” at the end of that statement.You can listen to the radio segment here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/low-carb-out-gluten-free-in-in-2013-2013-01-03-710710?mod=wsj_share_tweet The rising number of those being diagnosed with celiac disease and gluten intolerance certainly supports the prediction that the gluten-free diet will be the 2013 popular diet trend, however, there are many other reasons why a growing number of people are choosing a gluten-free diet. Here are a few. Please note that this list does not constitute a recommendation of the gluten-free diet. Always consult with your health professional before changing your diet in any way. 1. Genetically Modified Wheat A growing number of people in North America are getting fed up with (and smarter about) genetically modified foods (GMOs). A growing body of research suggests they are harmful. Many health experts have been pointing fingers at wheat for a long time, such as Dr. William Davis, author of the New York Times bestseller, “Wheat Belly.” His “Wheat Belly” wheat-free diet has become so popular, that he’s even intrigued Dr. Oz in a recent appearance on the show by demonstrating that a slice of wheat bread can spike sugar levels far higher than a chocolate bar! You can find out more information about Wheat Belly here: http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/ 2. Autism An increasing number of health professionals are recommending a gluten-free, casein-free diet for individuals with autism, and this diet has become a particularly popular recommendation for children. A recent study conducted by Penn State University found “parents (of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder) noted improved GI symptoms in their children, as well as increases in their children’s social behaviors, such as language production, eye contact, engagement, attention span, requesting behavior and social responsiveness, when they strictly followed a gluten-free, casein-free diet.” The results have appeared in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience. For more information, visit: http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2012/02/gluten-free-autism 3. ADHD There is some speculation that a gluten-free diet is effective in helping children and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. More research is needed, however, it is hypothesized that the elimination of grains containing gluten, such as wheat has the potential to lower blood sugar levels, or at least prevent them from spiking at high numbers. This in turn has been found to result in reduced hyperactivity to a certain degree in many cases. 4. Mental Illness There is research being done on the connection between gluten and mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. There is an interesting article written by Dr. Emily Deans, MD, in Psychology Today which points out some very interesting information to say the least: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201103/wheat-and-schizophrenia-0 Some of the findings beg the question- would a gluten-free diet be beneficial for those with other mental illnesses? 5. Autoimmune Diseases Just like number one above, health experts (particularly alternative health professionals) are questioning the impact and effects of genetically modified foods such as wheat on our overall health. The immune system requires nutritionally dense, clean, whole foods to function at an optimal level, so this theory seems to make sense. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. Multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune diseases are being questioned with respect to a link between them and gluten. 6. Weight Loss According to the “Wheat Belly” diet, and many others, eliminating foods that contain gluten (like wheat) can lead to natural, healthy weight loss- when done the right way. Carbs are still carbs, so it’s not about replacement of them, but more about focusing on the other, healthier food groups and options as an alternative. 7. Healthier Lifestyle Eliminating refined carbohydrates that contain gluten, such as wheat, barley and rye can result in better, more stable blood sugar levels, eliminating GMO foods, and increased energy. Many people who go gluten-free for the first time the right way (without eating the gluten-free junk food and alternate carb products) report an elimination of the “foggy thinking phenomenon” and report an increase in energy. So if you have been advised to go gluten-free in 2013 for any of the reasons above, perhaps you should consider yourself lucky! Are there any reasons for going gluten-free that are missing from this list?   About the Author: Lisa Cantkier was medically diagnosed with celiac disease as a toddler. She enjoys researching and writing about celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and has a special interest in holistic nutrition. Lisa founded GlutenFreeFind.com- an online resource directory, to help others find useful information pertaining to gluten-free living.You can visit GlutenFreeFind.com on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  

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