by Laura Binder
Gluten-free bread, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free cookies… you need only to take a stroll through your local supermarket to see that the gluten-free diet has gone mainstream.
So what’s the big deal with this much-maligned protein? Should you be eating gluten-free? According to recent New York Times article “Gluten-Free Whether You Need It or Not,” the answer is: maybe.
Gluten is the protein found in wheat and related grain species such as barley, rye, and spelt. It gives dough its characteristic elasticity and contributes to the pleasing chewy texture of many baked goods.
Yet gluten has also been associated with a multitude of health problems. Around 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease, a serious auto-immune disorder that causes a severe inflammatory reaction any time gluten is consumed. The only known treatment for celiac disease is a 100% gluten-free diet.