For the past few years, there has been a surge in gluten/wheat free eating. A recent commentator wondered whether it is yet another diet fad?
There are articles galore on this issue, but this one helps explain (see here) the differences between having Coeliac Disease (an auto immune condition), and having wheat intolerance. Wheat allergy is different again and the same authors speak about that here.
Going gluten free when you don't really need to (ie believing you have coeliac disease, wheat allergy or wheat intolerance), can cause issues of its own, see this American article here.
What is one to believe or to do, if having dietry issues?
For a start, if you think you might have Coeliac Disease, consider going to see your doctor. A blood test can help diagnose it - unfortunately you need to be eating a gluten rich diet for it to be 100% accurate from what I have read.
It is estimated in the UK, that 1 to 2 out of 100 people have this auto-immune disorder with an estimated 24% still un-diagnosed. A follow up endoscopy is needed to really confirm the diagnosis, as it is in your small intestine that the damage often shows up.
Having read the articles, I think if you had wheat allergy you would probably already be aware of it if you experienced an acute reaction. If not, you may eventually become aware of it, but maybe not until it has affected you for some time.
Wheat intolerance is different again, ranging from mild to adverse effects, similar to Coeliac Disease.
Going without wheat, which is a huge part of our everyday eating, may lead to other problems, according to the American article above, such as deficiencies in iron, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate and may potentially cause a decrease in the amount of beneficial bacteria in
the gut (Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus), which can negatively
impact the immune system.
Here are just a few, of the many wheat alternatives which may help replace some of these losses:
Sorghum flour which is high in iron, protein, fibre and antioxidants.
Teff flour is high in minerals, calcium, high in fibre, iron and protein.
Garbanzo flour is high in protein and fibre.
Maize flour is high in vitamins,
minerals and dietary fibre.
You could also argue that taking a daily dose of probiotics as well as a multi-vitamin and mineral pill would also replace what is lacking. Chosing to do it that way rather than by food, is entirely up to you.
As for me, I don't believe I have Coeliac Disease or a wheat allergy. I might not even have a wheat intolerance. I do have however, a few long term mild symptoms, that have built up through the years. Until I knew that one of our Christmas guests was gluten free, I had never thought much about it. Now I have!
I am actually enjoying GF baking and trying to get to grips with it all. Yes, I am probably going OTT for such a short time of having a GF guest. However, investigating all these alternatives has made a difference to some of my symptoms. Being gluten free has helped with my guest's symptoms. I might even decide to go GF or mix these other flours into our wheat based ones!
A fad, who knows, who cares! I shall carrying on investigating, playing with ingredients and seeing where it takes me. Life is all about travelling roads and seeing where they take you:)