From Chelsea Clinton’s gluten free wedding cake, to Miley Cyrus’s gluten free diet for weight loss, it is clear that there is a trend to avoid gluten.  But is it just cutting carbs to lose weight and being trendy, or is there more to the story.  Celebrities such as Rachel Weise attribute her increase in energy to a gluten free diet.  Many celebrities are claiming they are gluten free because they are “sensitive” or “intolerant” to gluten.  What does that mean?  Usually it means they have digestive issues, and when they went gluten free, they got better.  What else can gluten effect?

Gluten the Friend

Gluten is a protein found in specific grains such as wheat.  It is gluten the makes our favorite baked goods taste so good! Gluten is like glue.  It is what keeps your bread from being a crumbly mess.  From pizza parties, to family barbeques with hamburgers and hot dogs, gluten is the glue that binds us culturally.  As a comfort food, gluten is our best friend.

Gluten the Foe

In some cases, gluten is a significant contributing factor to suffering from inflammatory issues such as irritable bowel disease, crohn, colitis, chronic fatigue, etc.

Those with Celiac disease use to be the only known population to be gluten intolerant. It was only in 2011 at the 14th annual Celiac disease conference they finally started talking about gluten sensitivity outside of celiac disease.  It is now just starting to be recognized by the mainstream population as a real issue.

While gluten may not be the “cure all” for some inflammatory conditions, it can be a significant contributing factor in some individuals. In cases where gluten is the culprit, a person will feel a major difference just removing gluten from their diet. If you have any inflammatory issues, you may want to try going gluten free to see if it helps. If additional support is needed it is highly recommended to see a skilled healthcare professional. The most comprehensive test for gluten is done by Cyrex labs.  It is the only conclusive test that I am aware of to determine if someone is intolerant to gluten.

What is causing this rise in gluten sensitivity?

Theories, include the integration of genetically modified food into our food supply, hybridization of grains over the years, grain storage in bins for long periods of time causing aflatoxin growth, leaky gut, chronic stress affecting immune tolerance, poor nutrition, and enzyme insufficiency.

Staci Shacter MS RD LDN, Nutritionist consultant for Kosher organics