Research reports many people are reducing or eliminating gluten from their diets for health benefits.
A new research report from Rutgers University is reporting the popularity of a gluten-free diet may be contributing to steadying the number of diagnoses of celiac disease, even if many who adopt the diet may not suffer from the disease, according to a report on UPI.com.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, in which those with the disease suffer from inflammation and gastrointestinal distress after consuming gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye. It is estimated that one of every 41 people have the disease and its symptoms.
Recent research has cautioned that following a gluten-free diet may even be detrimental to the health of those who do not have celiac disease, but still many people with other allergies or wheat sensitivity have found some relief after adopting the diet.
This new research involved medical information on 22,278 individuals over the age of 6 years that participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 2009 and 2014, and who were tested for celiac disease. From this large pool, the researchers found 106 subjects that actually had celiac disease, and an additional 213 that did not have the disease, but followed the gluten-free regimen.
The findings show that the percentages of celiac diagnoses remained quite constant over the period, but the number of gluten-free dieters more than tripled, from 0.52 percent in 2009 and 2010 to 1.69 percent in 2013 and 2014.
Admitting the sample size was small, the researchers speculated the perception by the public that the diet was healthy could be a contribution factor in the increase in popularity. Other diets that reduce or eliminate the consumption of gluten by cutting out most breads may also be a factor.
Dr. Daphne Miller, a researcher in the department of family and community medicine at the University of California San Francisco who wrote an accompanying commentary on the research, said one of five Americans have reduced or eliminated gluten from their diet, for a number of reasons. She adds that while the choice to go gluten-free may be based on “a misperception that gluten free is healthier,” researchers should use this as an “opportunity to understand how factors associated with this diet affect a variety of symptoms.”