Should You Go Gluten-Free?

By Kristin Ohlson, July/August 2009

Whole grains are good for you. So why are so many Americans giving up wheat, rye and barley? Should you?

"I am a vegetarian whose blood sugar was creeping up past the normal range. (Type 2 diabetes, here I come) Several friends who had been on medication for years for type 2 CURED their disease by going completely gluten-free. I joined...

Everyone at my book club peered at the fancy gluten-free cupcake someone had brought. It was for Anne, who recently had given up all forms of wheat, rye and barley because they contain gluten. (Gluten, as most bakers know, is the protein that gives dough its elastic quality.) I remember wondering why this slender, yoga-teaching, opera-singing woman was on this very restrictive diet—and whether I should try it too.

As the gluten-free bandwagon rolls along, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing something. Last year, Oprah Winfrey went on a 21-day cleanse that was free of gluten as well as caffeine, sugar, alcohol and animal products. Grains that are naturally gluten-free—such as quinoa, millet and teff—are becoming increasingly popular. And the rush of new gluten-free products into the marketplace is staggering: according to market research publisher Packaged Facts, 1,182 new gluten-free foods and beverages were introduced in 2008, continuing an average 33 percent annual increase since 2004. Books and websites claim that a gluten-free diet can help with weight loss, autism and dozens of other conditions.

Next: Should We All Be Avoiding Gluten? »

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