Essential Pittsburgh
4:51 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

What's Good About Going Gluten Free?

Gluten-free diets are an increasing food trend.  But is the fad healthy for everyone?
Gluten-free diets are an increasing food trend. But is the fad healthy for everyone?
Credit cookiespi / flickr

Grocer’s shelves are filling up with a number of gluten free products.

This is great news for people switching to gluten-free diets based on their gluten intolerance or celiac disease. But as the trend gains popularity, some worry that a gluten-free diet may be a fad and not healthy for everyone.

Dr. Kofi Clarke, director of the Celiac Center at Allegheny General Hospital and Amy Macklin, registered dietitian and owner of Gluten Free Roots say the popularity of gluten-free products is positive in that it increases awareness of celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten allergies. 

Dr. Clarke says 1 in 130 people in the United States have positive blood tests for celiac disease, but because the large majority of them have no symptoms, it remained an unknown ailment until recently. He points out that symptoms of celiac disease may not be evident until later in life.

“There are people who have had earlier screening for celiac which were negative and as they grow older you do the tests with the blood work and you notice they develop the positive blood test. There is also a section of people with true celiac disease who have no symptoms and they never get tested. So it’s difficult to say that if you test someone at the age of 20, 30 or 40 and they have celiac disease--particularly if they have no symptoms-- is it really a true new onset or have they actually had celiac for a while and never had symptoms?”