Gluten Free - The Way to Be?

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Gluten free food is all the rage these days.

And, it's not just being marketed to people who have a gluten allergy.
More and more companies are offering gluten-free foods in stores and restaurants.

So what does it mean to have a gluten sensitivity, and is going "gluten free" something we could all benefit from?

The number of people on gluten-free diets is at an all time high in the United States.

Some people choose to avoid gluten, which is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, rye and oats, but for others it is a medical must.

Geraldine Watts is part of a growing group of Americans with Celiac Disease.

"I can't eat anything made from wheat, rye, or oats, which has gluten in it, and that is what I cannot digest."

Today, the number of people with a gluten intolerance has surged to nearly one in every 133 people. That's quadruple the number of people just 50 years ago.

Gluten intolerant people have to avoid things like bread, cookies and pasta.

Cindy Shipman, a Clinical Nutrition Manager explains, "the disease is an autoimmune disorder where the intestine is effected by gluten. It's actually attacked; it does destruction it promotes malabsorption, chronic diseases, it's a very serious disorder and the gluten free diet is the only treatment."

Along with the rise in diagnosed cases, there is also a rise in the number of people diagnosing themselves and seeing a rapid improvement in their health.

Sarah Pitts is one of those who diagnosed herself.

"I was having skin issues, migraines, emotional unwellness and allergies... it was affecting my work and everything, and after going gluten free it only took two days and everything healed up."

Eating gluten free is challenging...But it's not nearly as difficult as it used to be thanks to the recent surge of gluten free products now lining store shelves.

The industry has gone crazy with gluten free items because the consumers have increasingly demanded them.

Some even choose a gluten free lifestyle in an attempt to cut down on carbs. But, some experts say that may not be the wisest choice.

"You might want to look at the labels for some of the gluten free products. A lot of them are loaded with calories and sugar because they are not always using the healthiest grains," says Shipman.

For Pitts, going gluten free and carefully reading labels has resulted in another health benefit.

"I've lost three pants sizes and my husband lost four," she said.

Now there are several smartphone apps to help those living a gluten free lifestyle make the right choices at the grocery store and at restaurants.

Copy and paste this link in to your web browser for a list of apps that can help you maintain a gluten-free diet: