The gluten-free diet, just like Kylie Jenner’s lip kit, is a trend that has continued to flourish in recent months, but not everyone who follows the diet does it by choice.
Gluten is a mixture of proteins commonly found in foods such as wheat, barley and rye, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. Celiac disease is one of the few reasons why people are medically required to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. A recent study done by Rutgers Medical School found that while more people are going gluten-free recently, there is not an increase of celiac disease diagnoses.
Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder. Essentially, when someone with the disease digests gluten, the lining of his or her intestines are destroyed, among other medical issues.
“When I eat gluten my body attacks itself,” Claire Bordeaux, a junior with celiac disease, said.
While those with celiac disease must avoid eating gluten, they also must be aware of cross-contamination.
Bordeaux said she has separate utensils in the kitchen and her own, uncontaminated butter, among other items.
“There’s different degrees of sensitivity with celiac disease, but for some people they are sensitive enough that a few parts per billion exposure to gluten can really cause symptoms for them,” Kelly Fisher, a registered dietitian, said.
The diet’s rise in popularity has resulted in lower prices and more options for eating gluten-free, but it also has resulted in misconceptions about those who follow the diet.
“A misconception could potentially put them at risk if someone just thought you don’t have to avoid it completely,” Fisher said.
She said that if you don’t need to follow a gluten-free diet because of celiac disease or intolerance then it’s usually better to not restrict your diet.
“All of the literature shows that a general healthy varied diet is sort of your best bet,” Fisher said. “Any diet restriction, in my opinion, should be avoided unless necessary.”
Fisher said that the gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily healthier because many gluten-free foods are higher in calories, higher in fat, and lower in fiber.
“It’s very trendy, and so I think people just have to do their research and be careful,” Fisher said. “ You can eat very healthfully and have a weight-loss diet without being gluten-free.”
Bordeaux, who was diagnosed when she was seven, said having celiac disease was especially hard when she was younger.
“It’s such a big lifestyle change,” Bordeaux said. “Also, when you’re younger you just want to kind of be like everyone else. Not being able to eat what they could eat was hard.”
A lot of the problems that occur with celiac disease are internal. It can be hard for those with celiac disease to know how damaged their intestines are or if they were contaminated.
“That’s hard just wondering am I healthy or am I okay right now,” Bordeaux said. “Especially because it can lead to problems down the line. You want to make sure that you are living in like a healthy state.”