If you walk the aisles of your local grocery store, you will now find entire rows of products that are gluten-free as opposed to just a few products here and there only a decade ago.
To give you a sense of the increase in the market, gluten-free products yielded $4.3 billion in sales in 2019 and are expected to reach $7.5 billion in the next five years.
Gluten-related diseases, such as celiac disease, are rare, affecting less than 1 percent of the population in the U.S. However, gluten-free diets are increasingly common for their perceived health benefits for people, especially for those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
What is Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity?
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance describes those who cannot tolerate gluten and experience symptoms like those with celiac disease, but don’t have the same level of antibodies and intestinal damage as with celiac disease.
What are the Symptoms of Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity?
Symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity can include gastrointestinal symptoms such as:
- abdominal pain
- “brain fog”
- joint pain
- and numbness in the legs, arms, or fingers
Typically, these symptoms appear hours or days after gluten has been ingested.
Benefits of a Gluten-free Diet for Celiac Disease or Gastrointestinal Irritation
The prevalence of gluten-free diets is driven by numerous factors, including social and traditional media coverage, consumer-directed marketing by manufacturers and retail outlets, and medical reports on the clinical benefits of gluten avoidance.
For many, a gluten-free diet is equated with a “healthier” lifestyle: Individuals may restrict gluten from their diets to improve gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms. Emerging evidence shows that gluten avoidance may be beneficial for some patients with gastrointestinal symptoms, such as those commonly encountered with irritable bowel syndrome.
Among the benefits of following a gluten-free diet if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten insensitivity are improved energy levels, healthy weight gain, reduced bloating, reduced joint pain and headaches, and improved bone health.
Gluten-Free Diets for People for Without Gluten Sensitivities
However, for healthy people without celiac disease or any symptoms, avoiding gluten means consuming a diet that lacks heart-healthy, fiber-rich whole grains, like wheat, rye, and barley. This could also mean a reduction in one’s diet of natural or enriched food sources of key vitamins and other nutrients, such as iron, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Additionally, some gluten-free foods have higher fat and sugar contents due to replacement ingredients.
Need more information about Your Diet and Gluten Sensitivity?
Digestive Health Centers specializes in diagnosing and treating celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. We are here to answer your questions and support you in your health journey.
Contact us today to make an appointment and meet with our specialists.