Doctors Wary of Anti-Gluten Crusade

Wheat-free diet mostly hype, except for those with celiac disease

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 6, 2008 6:29 PM CST

(Newser) – Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, is shaping up to be America’s latest diet villain. For about 3 million Americans diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called celiac disease, avoiding gluten is essential. But that alone doesn’t account for the $2 billion a year Americans spend on gluten-free foods, or the ever-growing list of products marketed as gluten-free, Newsweek reports.

Gluten-free diet advocates say it helps with ADHD and autism, and generally leads to feeling healthier. No less a figure than Oprah temporarily ditched the protein, increasing interest greatly. But doctors are skeptical of the hype. “There’s no documented scientific reason for that at all,” said one celiac specialist. The veggie-laden diet is generally healthy, but those without a celiac diagnosis should probably avoid it. His reasoning? “I don’t think people should torture their children unnecessarily.”

This PR photo from Stonyfield Farms advertises that their yogurts are gluten-free.
This PR photo from Stonyfield Farms advertises that their yogurts are gluten-free.   (PRNewsFoto/Stonyfield Farm)
Application technologist Jennifer Gaul examines a sample of wheat gluten in a test kitchen at MGP Ingredients Inc. in Atchison, Kan. Monday, April 30, 2007.
Application technologist Jennifer Gaul examines a sample of wheat gluten in a test kitchen at MGP Ingredients Inc. in Atchison, Kan. Monday, April 30, 2007.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Application technologist Jennifer Gaul displays a handful of wheat gluten at MGP Ingredients Inc. in Atchison, Kan. Monday, April 30, 2007.
Application technologist Jennifer Gaul displays a handful of wheat gluten at MGP Ingredients Inc. in Atchison, Kan. Monday, April 30, 2007.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
General Mills announces that Rice Chex cereal is now gluten-free.
General Mills announces that Rice Chex cereal is now gluten-free.   (Photo: Business Wire)
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