Rapid Communication - Archives in Food and Nutrition (2023) Volume 6, Issue 3
The rise of gluten-free: understanding the trend and its impact
Nikolina Cukelj Musta *
Department of Food Technology and Biotechnology, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
- Corresponding Author:
- Nikolina Cukelj Musta
Department of Food Technology and Biotechnology
University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia.
Received: 14-May-2023, Manuscript No. AAAFN-23-107925; Editor assigned: 16-May-2023, PreQC No. AAAFN-23-107925 (PQ); Reviewed: 30-May-2023, QC No AAAFN-23-107925; Revised: 01-Jun-2023, Manuscript No. AAAFN-23-107925 (R); Published: 07-Jun-2023, DOI:10.35841/aaafn-6.3.149
Citation: Musta N C. The rise of gluten-free: Understanding the trend and its impact. Arch Food Nutr. 2023;6(3):149
In recent years, the gluten-free diet has gained immense popularity, with more and more people adopting this dietary pattern. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, has been linked to various health conditions, leading to the rise of gluten-free products and restaurants. While some individuals genuinely benefit from eliminating gluten from their diets, it is essential to understand the science behind it, debunk myths, and explore the potential health implications of going gluten-free .
Understanding gluten and celiac disease
Gluten is a complex protein that gives elasticity to dough and helps it rise during baking. It is present in various grains, most notably wheat, including its varieties like durum, spelt, and semolina. Barley and rye also contain gluten.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten consumption in genetically predisposed individuals. When someone with celiac disease ingests gluten, their immune system mistakenly attacks the small intestine, causing inflammation and damage to the lining. This interferes with nutrient absorption and may lead to various symptoms, such as gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, weight loss, and nutritional deficiencies. The only effective treatment for celiac disease is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet .
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity
Beyond celiac disease, some people experience symptoms after consuming gluten, yet they test negative for celiac disease and wheat allergies. This condition is known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Individuals with NCGS may experience bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, and other non-specific symptoms after consuming gluten.
While NCGS is a real phenomenon, its exact cause and prevalence are still subjects of ongoing research. Some studies suggest that other components in wheat, such as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), may be responsible for these symptoms rather than gluten itself. However, more research is needed to fully understand NCGS and its implications .
Gluten-free diet for autism and other conditions
In recent years, there has been growing interest in using a gluten-free diet as an alternative treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the scientific evidence supporting this approach is limited and inconclusive. Some parents have reported improvements in behavior and cognition in their autistic children after adopting a gluten-free diet, but these anecdotal reports lack rigorous scientific validation .
It is essential to remember that each individual is unique, and what works for one person may not be effective for another. Before making significant dietary changes for medical conditions like autism or ADHD, it is crucial to consult healthcare professionals and registered dietitians to ensure balanced nutrition and appropriate guidance.
The gluten-free trend
In recent times, the gluten-free diet has gained immense popularity, extending beyond medical necessity to become a trend embraced by individuals without celiac disease or NCGS. Celebrities, health influencers, and media have contributed to the hype, promoting gluten-free diets as a way to improve overall health and lose weight.
However, it is vital to be cautious when adopting a gluten-free diet without any medical indication. Gluten-free products often substitute gluten-containing ingredients with refined flours, sugars, and additives, making them less nutritious than their gluten-containing counterparts. Moreover, gluten-free diets may lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients like fibre, iron, B-vitamins, and folate .
The gluten-free diet is a necessary and life-changing treatment for individuals with celiac disease, providing them with symptom relief and improved quality of life. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a valid condition that affects some individuals, although its exact causes remain uncertain.
For the general population without celiac disease or NCGS, adopting a gluten-free diet without proper medical advice may lead to nutritional imbalances and potential health risks. If you suspect gluten sensitivity or wish to explore a gluten-free diet for health reasons, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to make informed decisions about your dietary choices. Always remember, balance and moderation are key to a healthy lifestyle.
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