A gluten free diet is a diet completely free of ingredients containing gluten, a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye and triticale. Gluten constitutes about 80% of the proteins contained in wheat and is responsible for the flexibility of kneaded dough. Those with celiac disease (CD) and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH- the skin manifestation of CD characterized by chronic, extremely itchy rash consisting of bumps and blisters), who are gluten intolerant, must strictly follow this diet.
Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that affects one in 133 Americans. The disease seems to most affect people of European (especially Northern European) descent, but recent studies show that it may also affect Hispanic, Black and Asian populations. Those affected suffer damage to regions of their intestines if they consume gluten. Oats have traditionally been considered to be toxic to celiacs, but recent scientific studies have shown otherwise. This research is ongoing and it is too early to draw any firm conclusions.
A gluten free diet may also be helpful for persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune disorders, although currently there are no high quality human trials available to support this claim.
The accompanying Monograph available for download includes information on scientific evidence, safety and other background information. For more, click Download.