Living gluten-free – A fad or a healthier lifestyle?

Packaging of food containing wheat and gluten.

Adopting a new diet into your lifestyle can be a tough transition – from veganism to pescetarianism, they all take a while to adapt to.

But what about going gluten-free?

More people are thought to be taking up a gluten-free diet for medical reasons. However, some people choose to follow this lifestyle.

In the UK, around one in every 100 people are affected by coeliacs disease, with some living with the condition undiagnosed.

Patricia Davey, 42, was diagnosed with coeliacs disease eight years ago, she said: “The hardest part of living with it are the horrible side effects if I accidentally ingest gluten. I also find people confuse coeliacs with being a fussy eater which results in them not taking it seriously.

“There are not enough places catering for it and even if they do, there’s still chances of cross-contamination from food being prepared in a kitchen with normal foods. This has happened many times to me.”

Coeliacs disease is an autoimmune disease which is caused by a reaction to gluten and is incurable and can cause damage to the lining of the gut.

Side effects can include abdominal pain, bloating and indigestion and can often be confused with  other medical problems.

People with other medical problems such as gluten-intolerance may experience similar symptoms to coeliacs disease, but it does not cause damage to the gut.

A wide variety of foods such as pasta, breads and cereals all contain gluten, meaning people living a gluten-free life have to buy specialist food which can often be expensive.

Chloe Williams, 20, chose to follow a gluten-free lifestyle. She said: “I wanted to improve my health and be more energetic so thought I’d give it a go. Gluten-free bread and pasta are three times more expensive than normal bread and pasta, so it isn’t a great lifestyle to follow if you are on a budget.”

Some people believe there is no harm in following a gluten-free diet, whereas others believe it is harmful unless you have medical needs.

Sophie Gayer, a Lincoln-based dietitian, said: “Many celebrities endorse gluten-free diets, but it does not mean you are healthier. It can be life-changing for those with coeliacs, but following a gluten-free diet can be restrictive and gluten-free products often have higher amounts of sugar and salt.”

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