We ve seen the sugar-free and fat-free labels for years. Now there are gluten-free options at the grocery store and on the menu at many restaurants.
Subway has even joined in the trend. Portland is a test market for their gluten-free sandwich rolls.
In Southeast Portland Rudy Medina makes gluten-free pizza.
It has really helped our business. Some people are doing it as a diet fad, said Medina.
One marketing group reports sales of gluten-free products are up 37 percent for the first part of 2012.
Nutritionist Ruth Carey does not recommend giving up gluten unless you have celiac disease which occurs in about 1 percent of the population. Another 5 percent to 10 percent may be gluten intolerant.
People with celiac disease actually cause damage to their intestine when they eat gluten and suffer some very uncomfortable symptoms like cramping and bloating, explained Carey. But cutting gluten from your diet when you don t need to can cause problems. Studies show gluten-free diets are deficient in fiber and vitamins, said Carey.
She believes some people think gluten-free will lead to weight loss but that should not be the goal.
Many of the gluten free products out there are glorified cupcakes. They re not really that good for you.
Some products Carey said have more calories and are refined. Gluten-free bread for example, is not required by the government to be fortified with iron and folic acid like regular bread.
The bottom line, Carey concluded, Gluten-free or not make sure you eat whole grains, bran, rice, quinoa. Foods that are high in fiber without being refined.