UNDATED (WJRT) -
(07/02/14) - Going gluten-free is becoming more popular these days, but celiac disease may not be the only reason why.
Easy access to gluten-free foods these days is a blessing for the two million Americans who can't tolerate gluten. But the gluten-free movement is gaining followers for other health reasons.
For Paul Daniel, going gluten free has been a key ingredient to improving his health.
"When I lay down at night, I'd have asthma symptoms, or I would have repeated migraines and get ear infections repeatedly," he said.
Daniel suffers food allergies He's sliced pizza and pasta from his diet and is feeling a lot better.
"I eat a lot more rice and Indian dishes now," he said.
People with wheat allergies and especially celiac disease cannot tolerate the protein gluten. That's because it damages parts of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. A person can become malnourished, no matter how much food they eat. This can mean a lot of stomach pains.
"We're seeing more and more people come to us going gluten-free not because they have been diagnosed with celiac but they are presenting with other medical conditions, joint pain, eczema, unexplained pain," said Amanda S. Holiday, MS, registered dietitian, UNC Chapel Hill.
In the meantime, gluten-free doesn't necessarily mean eliminating favorite foods. Pizza is still game - one recipe we found is made from potato tapioca millet and cornstarch.
So even though Daniel is cutting out gluten, he's opening up opportunities to try new tastes.
"Some dietitians warn that "gluten-free" products are made with refined, un-enriched grains and starches, which contain plenty of calories, but very few vitamins or minerals. Some studies have found that gluten-free diets can be seriously nutrient-deficient.