Gluten-Free Diet Followers on the Rise Among People Without Celiac Disease

Health In Focus   - G J E 4
  • Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder in which consumption of gluten causes damage to the small intestine
  • People with celiac disease should avoid eating gluten-containing foods such as wheat, rye and barley
  • The prevalence of celiac disease has remained stable in the past few years
  • But, people without celiac disease are following a gluten-free diet, claims a new study
In the recent years, the prevalence of celiac disease has remained stable. However, the number of people following a gluten-free diet is on the rise, according to the findings of a new study.
Gluten-Free Diet Followers on the Rise Among People Without Celiac Disease

Adherence to Gluten-Free Diet

Lead author Dr. Hyun-seok Kim, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, and coauthors conducted the study. The researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2009 to 2014. The survey included 22,278 participants over the age of six and had undergone blood tests for celiac disease. The participant's information about the prior diagnosis of celiac disease and adherence to a gluten-free diet was collected in a direct interview.

‘People without celiac disease are consuming gluten-free foods due to growing availability of gluten-free products and increased perception that it may be healthier.’
The results showed that 106 (0.69 percent) people were diagnosed with celiac disease, and 213 (1.08 percent) were adhering to gluten-free diet although they were not diagnosed with celiac disease. The findings correlated to an estimated 1.76 million people with celiac disease and 2.7 million people who adhere to a gluten-free diet even though they do not have the disease.

The prevalence of celiac disease has remained stable in the recent years (0.70 percent in 2009-2010, 0.77 percent in 2011-2012 and 0.58 percent in 2013-2014). However, the adherence to the gluten-free diet by people without celiac disease has increased (0.52 percent in 2009-2010, 0.99 percent in 2011-2012 and 1.69 percent in 2013-2014). The authors noted that the stable prevalence of celiac disease and increased adherence to a gluten-free diet might be related because decreased gluten consumption could be contributing to the plateau in celiac disease.

The increase in consumption of gluten-free diet by people without celiac disease could be due to factors such as
  • Increased availability of gluten-free products
  • Self-diagnosis of gluten sensitivity
  • Increased perception that it may be healthier
The study included small numbers of people who participated in NHANES who were diagnosed with celiac disease and adhered to a gluten-free diet without celiac disease. This could be a limitation of the study said the authors.

The study is published in the JAMA Internal Medicine.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease also known as sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy is an autoimmune disorder in which consumption of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. When people with celiac disease consume gluten-containing foods, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. The immune reaction damages the villi in the small intestine and prevents absorption of nutrients. Globally, one in hundred suffer from this disease. In the United States, more than two million people are undiagnosed and are at increased risk of long-term health complications.

Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease. Gluten is a protein that causes inflammation in people with celiac disease. Eating a gluten-free diet helps control the signs and symptoms of the celiac disease such as skin rash, joint pain, acid reflux, and heartburn.

The Pros and Cons of a Gluten-Free Diet

  • Promotes weight loss
  • Insulin resistance
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces consumption of processed foods
  • Low fiber
  • Lack of essential nutrients
  • Causes folate deficiency

  1. What is Celiac Disease
  2. Celiac Disease
Source: Medindia

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