Gluten is a type of protein found primarily in wheat, barley, and rye.
Many restaurants actually have completely separate gluten-free menus and virtually every eating establishment will indicate (with a bright “GF”) on their main menu whether an item is offered sans gluten.
But what’s the deal? Is gluten really something to avoid? Is the push towards gluten-free diets here to stay or just a flash in pan?
Well, for approximately 1% of the population – those with celiac disease - it’s vitally important that they avoid gluten since it can cause a serious immune response.
For an additional 5-6% of Americans, while the response to gluten isn’t as severe as it is for those with celiac, there may be some actual benefits to milder gluten sensitivity.
However, for many, adhering strictly to a gluten-free diet isn’t necessary.
Experts agree that, given the questionable benefits of abstaining from gluten, it’s likely that the trend will wane. Eventually, the available data will make it to a tipping point and a different dietary hazard will enter the spotlight.
That being said, due to the high number of people for whom gluten is a serious concern, gluten-free diets will never go away entirely.
While it can be irritating to some that many on the gluten-free bandwagon don’t need to be, the fact that it became a fad may be for the best. By having such a groundswell of support for gluten-free diets (even if they weren’t strictly necessary), restaurants and grocery stores have had to adapt. That allows for those who actually need to watch their gluten intake to shop and order with greater ease than ever before.