For people suffering from celiac disease — an autoimmune condition — going gluten-free is not a choice, but a health must. The autoimmune condition causes people to have an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in many grains like wheat, barely and rye, which leads to inflammation in the small intestine and prevents sufferers from absorbing certain nutrients.
Yet gluten-free diets have become trendy, even among those with no allergy to the protein, thanks to celebrities like Victoria Beckhman and Miley Cyrus swearing off gluten and claiming to feel healthier and fitter for it.
But “the bottom line is you only need gluten-free if you have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease,” says Booking. “It is estimated that only about 1 in 100 Americans have celiac disease and 1 in 7 may have gluten sensitivity.”
Booking notes that many gluten-free foods are now marketed to the general public as health foods — even though some processed gluten-free products are made with significant amounts of added sugar, saturated fat and preservatives. “Since I do not have gluten issues, I do not eat gluten-free foods. The majority of Americans do not have these problems,” she says. “Don’t be fooled into thinking that gluten-free is healthier if you don’t have gluten problems.”