The latest gluten-free diet craze, intended for individuals diagnosed with Celiac disease and gluten allergies, is receiving praise for its weight loss and health benefits from celebrities and everyday Americans.
Gluten-free products have received so much recognition from the media and celebrities that their annual sales are anticipated to reach $2.6 billion this year. Manufacturers are beginning to produce more gluten-free products so that in 2015, marketing research firm Packaged Facts reports the hot commodity will sell a whopping $5 billion.
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat and most grains, such as barley and rye. Doctors typically only recommend a gluten-free diet for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity — individuals without the disease that suffer from bowel pain or discomfort caused by the protein.
Yet, many people without the allergy are adopting a gluten-free lifestyle, chiefly for the weight loss results. Those with an actual allergy, however, do so for a completely different reason. Lee Stowers, a senior at The University of Alabama studying exercise science and pre-physical therapy, was diagnosed five years ago with a gluten allergy.
“Everyone always asks me, ‘how do you not eat bread? I would die.’ My answer always is when something makes you that sick you don’t miss it,” Stowers said. “It has affected my lifestyle in a lot more positive ways than negative.”
Singer and actress Miley Cyrus has become the unofficial spokeswoman for the gluten-free diet. Aside from her recent interviews discussing her new lifestyle, Liam Hemsworth’s bride-to-be is tweeting non-stop pictures showing off her new, slender physique.
“For everyone calling me anorexic I have a gluten and lactose allergy,” Cyrus tweeted on April 9 in defense of her drastic weight loss she credits to a gluten-free lifestyle.
The starlet is simply one of many who have made the change, claiming to physically feel better.
Kristy Sillay, a graduate student at the University working for her master’s degree in health science, had to have three shots a week for her allergies and sinus problems. After reading that a gluten-free diet could help alleviate her symptoms, Sillay decided to give it a try.
“I have noticed a significant difference when cutting gluten out of my diet. I feel better and not so fatigued,” Sillay, now gluten-free for three months, said. “My allergy and sinus symptoms are almost nonexistent.”
Although Cyrus and several other celebrities can attest to the slenderizing effects of a gluten-free diet, little experimental evidence proves that cutting out all gluten can shrink a waistline. A study in 2010 examining the benefits of a gluten-free diet found 22 of the 81 obese participants diagnosed with Celiac disease gained weight over the course of 2.8 years. Rather than going gluten-free to drop a few pounds, give it a try for the long-term benefits.