The prevalence of Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and gluten intolerance, is estimated at 6% in the US. Though NCGS and gluten intolerance presents with numerous gastrointestinal symptoms, unlike Celiac disease, it is not an autoimmune disorder. We need to know that the precise reasons for the rapid rise in gluten disorders remain unclear, though it is believed that dietary, environmental and genetic differences do contribute to it. There is, unfortunately, no reliable lab test to diagnose it and one needs to check the symptoms if they rapidly come on consuming gluten and likewise disappear quickly on eating a gluten-free diet.
According to studies, these symptoms include bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea, stomach pain, weight loss, eczema, erythema, headache, bone and joint pain, chronic tiredness, fatigue and depression. While gluten intolerance and sensitivity is a real thing, there is a ‘fad component’ to the gluten-free trend. A study published in ‘Nutrition in Clinical Practise’ showed that amongst people with self-diagnosis of gluten sensitivity, only 1 out of 4 adults satisfy the diagnostic criteria. Interest in gluten-free (GF) diets is on a rise partly due to media attention and partly due to celebrity nutrition. It is, no doubt, the most popular
Hollywood diet. As a result, the market for gluten-free foods is booming, estimated at an annual growth rate of 10.4%. Most of the gluten-free food products that you find in the market shelves have a higher amount of sugars, sodium and fats and are lower in fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Hence, to pursue a gluten-free diet without ‘real’ gluten intolerance will only lead to poor nutrition. Needless to say, no research shows that there are many benefits of ‘weight loss’ or metabolic health following a GF diet.
But for those who are sure of gluten-related problems in themselves, it makes complete sense to follow a completely gluten-free meal plan. They, however, need to ensure to choose real foods that are naturally gluten-free (eg, jowar, bajra, ragi, kuttu) v/s gluten-free products. So, choose a jowar bhakri over a portion of gluten-free pasta, a ragi porridge over gluten-free granola and likewise.
(Inputs by MUNMUN GANERIWAL, Nutritionist & Yoga/Fitness Consultant Founder: YUKTAHAAR)
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