More people are aware of celiac disease and gluten intolerance now than at any time in the past. This is partly because of the increased numbers of people diagnosed with CD, as well as celebrities speaking out on the subject because they or their children have been diagnosed with celiac disease.
There are relatively good reasons why a person without celiac disease might choose a gluten-free diet. Here are 10 good ones, and one bad one.
1. Wheat allergy. Anyone diagnosed with a food allergy to wheat must avoid gluten. Depending on the severity of their allergy, this may not need to be quite as strict as the diet for people with celiac disease. On the other hand, if they have had severe reactions to wheat, which is unusual but does happen, they need to be as strict as people with celiac disease.
2. First degree relatives (close relatives, including siblings, children and parents) of a patient with CD are at higher risk of CD. They may chose to adopt the diet at some point rather than wait to see if they get sick.
3. Friends or spouses of people with CD who are eating meals with them may chose to adopt the gluten-free diet. Food preparation will be easier and it will be more likely that the CD patient stays on a gluten-free diet.
4. Parents of a child with CD often adopt the gluten free diet for the whole family, even if they know no one else has CD. They may do this to make food preparation easier and staying on the diet easier, as others do. In addition, parents eating the gluten-free diet are demonstrating to their child with CD that it is a reasonable way to eat.
5. Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome with diarrhea may improve on a gluten-free diet. Although it is not clear why, removing gluten from the diet does make some people with IBS and diarrhea better.
6. Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, especially Crohn’s disease. Patients with IBD and celiac disease have many symptoms in common. There are some genetic markers that are present in both conditions. It is also possible for a person to have both. Some people with IBD have adopted a gluten-free diet with some improvement in their symptoms.
7. People with other problems absorbing certain kinds of food, like those with lactose intolerance. They may choose to try the gluten-free diet to see if it makes them feel better.
8. To stay on a gluten-free diet, whoever is buying and cooking the food has to pay very close attention to what they are buying. They have to discontinue processed food and junk food. This usually means a more healthy diet.
9. A gluten-free diet can be a weight-loss diet. When you remove wheat from the diet, you remove carbohydrates. You have to go out of your way to replace wheat with a wheat substitute to have any kind of bread, pasta or cake. It is easy to make a gluten-free diet a low carbohydrate diet because it is naturally low in carbohydrates. This can cause weight loss if followed by someone without CD.
10. American wheat is genetically modified and theoretically could cause more problems, even more celiac disease than natural wheat, and people may feel better not eating it. This is an iffy area.
11. This is the bad reason: Going on a gluten-free diet because celebrities that you admire or like are eating a gluten-free diet because of their own reasons, which may be good or bad. Gluten free has been called a celebrity diet. Some of these individuals may have good reasons for avoiding gluten. They are or have been on gluten-free diets. It has been reported that Gwyneth Paltrow apparently uses it to lose weight; Elisabeth Hasselbeck is reported to have CD; Jenny McCarthy thinks gluten allergy or sensitivity contributes to her son’s autism. Others include Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham, Rachel Weisz and Zooey Deschanel, who may be wheat allergic, and Keith Olbermann who has celiac disease.