Gluten-Free buzz reflects growing trend - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Gluten-Free buzz reflects growing trend

Gluten-free is a phrase all over the grocery store these days, and even hollywood celebrities are touting gluten-free diets. 

Behind the gluten-free trend is a very serious disease called Celiac, and an increasing number of people are being diagnosed.

"Sales are up double digits over a year ago, just in gluten free type products," Gary Huddleston with Kroger Grocery Store said.

Celebrities are touting gluten free foods for everything from weight loss to curing Attention Deficit Disorder and companies are cashing in.

"We have a pancake mix that is gluten free," Huddleston said.

Gluten free is more than a fad diet.  Sales of these products are being driven by a rapidly growing number of people diagnosed with gluten allergies.

A new study by Mayo Clinic shows Celiac Disease, an immune system reaction to gluten, is now four times more common than it was 50 years ago.

"I am making what I consider a sandwich, it's a lettuce wrap," Celiac Disease Patient Christi Lancaster said.

Christi Lancaster was diagnosed with Celiac after getting so sick she lost 60 pounds and wound up in the hospital.  Now, she can't touch gluten.

"Within 2 days I start to feel a headache come on, I get constipated. My stomach starts grumbling and stays like that for a couple weeks," Lancaster said.

Doctors aren't sure exactly why more people have Celiac today, but it may be diagnosed more because we're looking harder.

"So we're testing a lot more people and the tests we have are much better at making the diagnosis, the lab tests that we can do," Dr. David Levitan said.

As for the diets, they're generally safe for everyone but probably not the cure-all some people claim.

"It's a healthy way to go, it's not going to hurt you but in general it's not a panacea for these kinds of things," Dr. Devitan said.

Still, there's a positive side effect of this fad.  More food choices for people who have to eat gluten free.

No treatment or pill can cure Celiac Disease.  However, you can effectively manage symptoms through changing your diet.

Ironically, people with Celiac don't lose weight on the gluten-free diet.  They gain weight, because products containing gluten were preventing them from absorbing nurtients.

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