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Originally published September 19 2010

Health benefits of gluten-free diet helped make it mainstream

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A mere decade ago, most people likely had no idea what gluten even was. Today, the protein is widely known for causing digestive and other health problems in certain people that requires them to eat only gluten-free foods. And many otherwise healthy individuals are also going gluten-free because they believe it will improve their overall health.

Gluten is a glue-like composite found naturally in grains like wheat, rye and barley. It is what gives breads their fluffy texture, and is often used in other food preparations to make food thicker or more chewy. But gluten upsets the digestive function of some people, including those with Celiac disease, which is changing the consumer food market.

According to reports, less than one percent of the population actually suffers a severe immune reaction from gluten, and up to eight percent have mild-to-moderate insensitivity to it. But a far greater percentage of people are choosing to go gluten-free, a trend that has many analysts confused.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who recently admitted that she is severely deficient in vitamin D, believes that living gluten-free has improved her health and given her more energy. And Chelsea Clinton apparently had her wedding cake baked without gluten for similar reasons.

"I feel better when I don't [eat gluten]," explained Silvana Nardone, former editor-in-chief of the magazine Every Day with Rachael Ray. "If I go out to a restaurant with friends and I have a beer and a plate of pasta, I'm going to feel it the next day. No one wants a gluten hangover."

Nardone's son Isaiah has a gluten intolerance, so she has been mastering the art of gluten-free cooking. She recently released a cookbook full of gluten- and dairy-free recipes called Cooking for Isaiah.

Consumer preference towards gluten-free continues to increase, with sales having increased twofold since 2005. That same year, the market for gluten-free foods topped $1.5 billion, and experts believe the market will only continue to flourish.

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