The market for gluten-free products is absolutely exploding, while the reasons behind such explosion are not really clear. Individuals with celiac disease must avoid gluten, but they only make up 1% of the population in the U.S.
So, why exactly are otherwise healthy people going gluten-free?
The answer is probably because they perceive it to be healthier than a typical diet rich in gluten. Or because celebrities are doing it and it’s the latest trend.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important to note that gluten in and of itself doesn’t contain any special nutritional benefits, but unless you have sensitivity to it, it’s not unhealthy either.
On the other hand, some foods that contain gluten, such as whole grains, are definitely healthy as they are rich in iron, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Whole grains also reduce the risk of heart disease and even cancer.
Further, gluten-free products tend to have low concentrations of zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron and fiber. In other words, there are risks involved with eliminating gluten from one’s diet, one such risk being nutritional deficiencies. Whether children should be exposed to such risk is debatable at best, unless, of course, they have celiac disease.
If you believe you or any or your family members, regardless of age, are sensitive to gluten, the best course of action would be to get tested first before eliminating any foods from your diet that your body is used to getting. Who knows, you might not even be sensitive to wheat at all.