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Sensitive to Gluten? It May Not Be Celiac Disease

The market for gluten-free products continues to explode; annual sales will climb to $15 billion by 2016. But not all of this market demand comes from individuals with celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten consumption that damages the small intestines. According to a recent post in The New York Times, individuals who react poorly to gluten may not actually have celiac disease, but rather a condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. People with gluten sensitivity still experience digestive distress or other symptoms when eating gluten, but there is no intestinal damage, as with celiac patients. While there is some indication that people with gluten sensitivity are reacting more to certain carbohydrates than to gluten itself, it is clear that many people who are gluten sensitive (or who have celiac disease) will continue to avoid gluten, and that gluten-free products are here to stay. Here are some additional facts surrounding the “gluten-free” trend:

  • Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some other grains, such as rye, barley, KAMUT wheat, and triticale; however, there are thousands of other products or ingredients on the market that contain gluten because they are made from these grains. Some grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, and millet, do not naturally contain gluten.
  • According to a recently passed federal regulation, all packaged products labeled “gluten-free,” including dietary supplements, must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
  • For people with celiac disease, the malabsorption of nutrients can be a serious problem; therefore, in consultation with a doctor, celiac patients should consider a high-potency multivitamin/mineral product, and should possibly supplement with other single nutrients, such as magnesium.

Source: The New York Times

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