A gluten-free diet (GF diet) is a diet that excludes foods containing gluten. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye and triticale. A gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease attacking the small intestine due to the presence of gluten. Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is a form of celiac disease in which gluten causes the immune system to attack the skin; therefore a gluten-free diet is essential. People with these diseases are considered gluten intolerant. There is a minority of people who suffer from wheat intolerance alone and are tolerant to gluten. Gluten sensitivity is another reason people will choose to go gluten-free.
Some people believe that there are health benefits to gluten-free eating for the general population, but there is no published experimental evidence to support such claims. A significant demand has developed for gluten-free food in the United States whether it is needed or not. Peter H.R. Green, MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University stated that the gluten-free market is expanding greatly. This expansion is extremely valuable for those with celiac disease or other medical reasons, such as gluten intolerance or sensitivity. However, a gluten-free diet does not hold the same benefits for the general public.
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