We all know people who are now either only eating gluten free food or are choosing to eat it primarily. Is it a fad or is it a real need or is it in fact a combination? Does eating less gluten really make people feel better or not?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, oats, barley and rye. It has a significant role to play in the baking industry, particularly with bread as it plays a major part in the texture and structure we associate with bread. Without gluten bread does not rise to the same degree and has a much denser texture.
There are a small number of people in our community who cannot eat gluten without suffering from gas, bloating, pain or potentially loss of sections of their bowel or even death. These people suffer from a specific disease and their digestive systems are simply not able to accept gluten. They are known as Coeliacs. There is no known current cure for this disease, and the only way that these people can avoid these symptoms is to simply not eat foods containing gluten.
There are also people in our community who have not been tested to confirm that they are Coeliacs but believe that by limiting the amount of gluten they eat, actually feel better and more energetic. This is an increasing number of people, as a recent survey in the USA shows.
In the USA, there has been an increase in the sales of gluten free food in the last two years of 63 percent, to hit $8.8 billion. This research was done by Mintel, a market research organisation. It would be a similar jump in Australia with every restaurant and café now with a gluten free option and the massive number of gluten free products now in the supermarkets. Gluten free is no longer a fad, it is now mainstream and eaten daily by choice by thousands of people in this country.
Whether for the majority of those thousands there is a real physical benefit (as there is for diagnosed Coeliacs) or a complex psychological one, is now a question that is being hotly debated. Regardless of the answer, there is an increasing consumption and purchase of gluten free food worldwide.
Amanda Topper, Food Analyst at Mintel, said; “Overall, the gluten-free food market continues to thrive off those who must maintain a gluten-free diet for medical reasons, as well as those who perceive gluten-free foods to be healthier or more natural. The category will continue to grow in the near term, especially as FDA (Food and Drug Administration in the USA) regulations make it easier for consumers to purchase gluten-free products and trust the manufacturers who make them. Despite strong growth over the last few years, there is still innovation opportunity, especially in food segments that typically contain gluten.”
Written by Rachelle Williams, The Green Food Safety Coach.