The Gluten-Free Food Phenomenon


Welcome to Gluten-Free 101

You’ve heard all this talk about gluten-free diets . . . Fad? Folly? Food for thought?

There’s this from The Wheat Foods Counsel:

“A new survey from market research firm the NPD Group finds that America is cutting gluten out of its diet in a big way. Just under one-third of 1,000 respondents agreed with the statement: “I’m trying to cut back/avoid Gluten in my diet.”


That’s the highest level since the company added gluten consumption to the surveys it does about Americans’ eating habits in 2009. TIME labeled the gluten-free movement #2 on its top 10 list of food trends for 2012.

As food fads go, though, this one’s not only enormous, it’s enormously expensive – and many of us paying a premium to avoid gluten are doing so without any legitimate medical reason.1

Is this about gluten, bread, or money?

What is gluten, and why do people want to be free of it? Is gluten the new refined sugar?

This is from a study from the journal BMC Medicine:

“Gluten is the structural protein component of the grains wheat, rye and barley, which are the basis for a variety of flour- and wheat-derived food products consumed throughout the world. Possibly, the introduction of gluten-containing grains, which occurred about 10,000 years ago with the advent of agriculture, represented a “mistake of evolution”. . . mediated by the adaptive immune system . . . by T-cell activation in the gastrointestinal mucosa.”2

What’s at the root of gluten issues? It’s actually not about roots, but seeds. The “fruiting bodies” of plants contain nutrients that allow seedlings to grow. As you would guess, these nutrients are attractive to various species to eat. Annual grasses that release seeds need to protect those seeds during maturation from insects and animals. And in wheat–one of the main sources of gluten in most diets–are alpha-gliadins, seed-storage proteins that contain peptides associated with gluten digestion issues.3,4

Figures suggest that between 5% and 10% of all people suffer from a gluten sensitivity in some form. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that the gluten-free industries revenues will reach $1.9 billion by 2012. Gluten-free foods are, on average, 242% more expensive than their non-GF counterparts.5 You can see why this subject has attracted some attention!

What’s gluten-free and what’s good for me?

Instead of listing a bunch of things you can’t eat, how about some good news?

Being gluten-free can be about eating nutritional foods and maintaining good health. There’s so much to eat on a gluten-free table! Beans are such a rich and varied family of foods, extraordinary sources of protein, fiber and antioxidants. Nuts in their natural, unprocessed form can also be rich in antioxidants. Think of great fresh foods, such as eggs, meat, fish, poultry. You can add all the fruits and vegetables you like,6 maybe even reach the USDA “Food Guide Pyramid” goal of 2-4 fruit and 3-5 veggie servings a day.7 Most dairy products are OK, but check your labels.

There are still many grains and starches you can eat in a gluten-free diet: buckwheat, corn, gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean), rice, millet, quinoa, soy and many more.

Whether you’re leaning towards the Gluten Intolerance Group or The Wheat Foods Counsel, do your best to keep informed and aware of the latest research.

Meanwhile, whether you like a little toast with your tea, or go for the gluten-free cornbread muffin, take a look at the amazing array of gluten-free supplements we offer. Or just have a snack!

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  1. Joe
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I have Celiac Disease and I really appreciate everyone getting on the GF express. It has lowered my costs considerably. I also think it does help numerous people that have my reaction elsewhere in their body.

    • Tom Woods
      Posted November 13, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      I have been Gluten Free for about 5 years. I thank the doctor who, after all the tests, suggested that I go Gluten Free. I’m 76, go to the Gym 3 times a week to use the treadmill and bike. Some people mock me and say it’s all in my head. Little do they know, it saved my life. I have no more bloating, upset stomach or nausea. At 162 lbs, I feel very fit and I owe most of it to a Gluten free diet.

  2. Sandy
    Posted November 13, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Celiac disease I been diagnosed . Is there a cure?
    No doctrs no anything but diet?

  3. Sandy
    Posted November 13, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Celiac disease I been diagnosed . Is there a cure?
    No doctrs no anything but diet?

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