There is nothing more frustrating than reading articles and people’s opinions about eating gluten-free and that it is just a fad that will die out. I’m specifically referring to an article on Time.com “Eat More Gluten: The Diet Fad Must Die“
The author, Jeffrey Kluger states:
Food fads are nothing new, and they do run their course. Eventually, the gluten-free cookbooks will wind up in the same river of pop detritus as the no-carb wines and the fat-free cookies and the crock pots and fondue sets and woks everyone in America seemed to buy at once in 1988 and stopped using sometime around 1989. When that happens, the people with celiac or gluten ataxia or genuine gluten sensitivity will still have to wrestle with their illnesses, while everyone else returns happily to their baguettes—searching for the next big thing to exorcise.
And then there is this.
The anti-gluties will surely tell you they feel better, fitter, more energetic, that their withdrawn child has suddenly blossomed and that their man—following the Guide For Guys—is healthier and happier. But the placebo effect—even the placebo effect by proxy, seeming to see better health in someone else—is a very real thing. Most of the time, however, it has nothing to do with the perceived cause.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, he is dead wrong and didn’t do enough research. Living with Ulcerative Colitis, I have a little different perspective on the matter. I live in a world of people with Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, and Celiac Disease. These are the three main groups that probably struggle with gluten the most.
I am a member of many active FB groups and have seen first hand that in about 95% of the cases going gluten-free has helped improve symptoms or like my case, almost completely got rid of any symptoms altogether.
In my case going gluten-free resolved my stomach issues, it cleared up all my dry skin issues which I have dealt with since childhood, and it got rid of my fatigue. And no it isn’t a placebo.
Growth Rate in Gluten Related Diseases
Here are some facts about the growth rate in these diseases that Kluger conveniently forgot to mention.
Src: CCFA (these stats were updated on November 2014). That means between 2011 and 2014 there was an increase of 14% in cases reported.
Src: Celiac Central If you do the math on 1 in 133 it comes out to around 3.2 million Americans that suffer from celiac disease.
If you take a look at Google Trends, you will see the interest over time is still growing when it comes to the “gluten-free” topic.
And if you look at the United States since 2004, interest around autoimmune diseases is also steadily growing.
Just the other day I went out to get my haircut. I sat down and the girl started to cut my hair and chat with her friend who was also cutting hair. They began talking about having stomach issues. Long story short, the person cutting my hair had Celiac Disease, and the person cutting hair next to me has IBD. 100% of the people I interacted with that day had some type of stomach problem.
Here’s another interaction I had recently. I was in Sprouts and saw a man staring at the products in an aisle. He seemed lost. I asked him “Trying to find the good stuff?” He responded with “My 11-year-old son just got diagnosed with Celiac Disease and I have no idea what I am doing.” That almost broke my heart. I could hear the confusion in his voice and so I proceeded to help him pick out some products that were healthy and tasted good.
It boggles my mind how prevalent this is becoming, and it is very scary!
Gluten-Free Sales Growth
U.S. retail sales of gluten-free and free-from foods are projected to grow to 23.9 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. Just since 2006, sales of gluten-free foods have grown 1066%.
As you can see the gluten-free fad as some call it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And being one of those people that has to eat gluten-free I appreciate all the people jumping on the bandwagon even if they don’t have to. Why? Because it means more and more companies will invest their money into researching how to develop gluten-free alternatives.
I still don’t think companies fully realize that all it takes is one family member that has an intolerance or Celiac, and in most cases, they will lose that entire family’s business forever. Whether it be a product in the grocery store or a fast-food chain that isn’t adapting to the times.
I do agree with Jeffrey that a lot of gluten-free alternatives are not any healthier than the real ones. You do need to be very careful. Try to get products with as little ingredients as possible. Try to eat all organic whenever possible.
Do you have an opinion on the gluten-free fad idea being tossed around? If so I would love to hear your comments below.