About a decade ago if you asked any average Joe or Jane what a gluten-free diet was, not many would get a prize for the right answer. Today, it's a different story. Loads of products are directed at the gluten-free market. You'll find aisles upon aisles in your favorite supermarkets stacked with a variety of gluten-free products that cater to people looking to completely eliminate gluten from their diet. It's a household word today and it looks like the trend is here to stay. Gluten-free diets are a necessity for some; a lifestyle choice for others. Why has gluten-free become so popular in such a short amount of time? What are the benefits of a gluten-free diet? What gluten-free products can you find in the market? Read on.
Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity
It is estimated that about 1.8 million Americans suffer from what's known as celiac disease. In addition, about 1.4 million may have the disease but are still undiagnosed. This is an auto-immune disease that damages the lining of the small intestine preventing nutrients from being absorbed by the body. Those who suffer from celiac disease have an allergy to gluten, a protein commonly found in wheat, barley, rye and some oats. Abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea are the most common symptoms. Even small amounts ingested can produce extreme discomfort which is why doctors recommend a strict gluten-free diet to celiacs.
A growing number of people are gluten-sensitive. This is different from celiac disease. Being gluten-sensitive means that while the body is not totally intolerant to gluten, people still experiences some amount of discomfort after eating food that contains gluten.
Gluten-free diet fads
Gluten free is the new low-carb diet. More and more people are joining the gluten-free bandwagon for improved digestion and weight loss. And with celebrities like Miley Cyrus toting the benefits of a gluten-free diet for weight loss, the gluten-free fad is booming.
So if you're a gluten free food lover for whatever reason, here's a list of gluten free products that you can find in the market and online stores with a few tips on what you should look for when you're buying gluten-free foods:
Gluten Free Breads: There's a variety of gluten-free breads to choose from these days. You'll findclassic white bread, multi-grain bread, cinnamon-raison bread, cornbread, white sandwich bread and more. All of these are gluten free, but make sure you look for products that have the gluten-free seal issued by Quality Assurance International (QAI).
Gluten Free Stuffing. There's no stuffing without bread. Gluten-free stuffing provides tasty bits of stuffing made without wheat. It's usually made from white rice flour, corn starch, tapioca, and brown rice flour. It can be used in any gluten-free preparation.
Gluten Free Pasta: Pasta is something most gluten-free lovers crave for. There are brands that provide pasta that's very close to the original flavor. You'll find fettucini, fusilli, lasagna, spaghetti, elbow macaroni, and spirals made from brown rice.
Gluten Free Supplements: Did you know that even dietary supplements can contain traces of gluten? These are generally excipients added to hold tablets together. Because celiac and those who exclude gluten from their diets are prone to certain nutritional deficiencies, taking supplements is necessary. You'll find a variety of gluten-free dietary supplements such as multi-vitamins and minerals, enzymes that help in digestion, herbs and other botanical remedies for more condition-specific benefits.
Kosher Products: If you're looking for something kosher and gluten-free there are companies that cater to this niche market. There are gluten-free foods designed for you like super-kosher multi-grain tortilla chips!
Gluten Free Gift Baskets: If you've got friends who are on a gluten-free diet what better gift can you give than to treat them with gluten-free products?
Where do you shop for gluten-free foods? The local supermarket is a good place to start. Online shopping will probably offer more variety, but make sure you use a trusted brand. One of my favorites is the Gluten Free Palace Brand because of the sheer variety they offer.