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July 18, 2014 06:18 PM

Going Gluten Free

It's a lifestyle that's gaining more attention from restaurants and grocery stores. The goal is to make more gluten free items available. 

Now more than ever there's a bigger selection at grocery stores, and restaurants are providing gluten free menus.

"The multi grain is very delicious and the sweet potato we really like," Hy-Vee Customer, Barbra Larsen said.

These items are no longer hidden in the back corner of the store. There's a whole aisle in the health section that's designated to gluten free foods.

"We try to make shopping as easy as we can for customers and especially for customers who have to eat gluten free," Hy-Vee Dietitian, Annie Ailts said.

"I have a friend that's gluten intolerant and she has a gluten free kitchen," Hy-Vee Shopper, Kjerstin Lifto said.

"In particular, the last two years we have noticed that the gluten free products are significantly tastier they used to have a very artificial tasting," Larsen said.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley. There are two types of gluten intolerances, celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

“Celiac disease is an auto immune disorder in which eating gluten causes intestinal damage and malabsorption and gluten sensitivity causes similar symptoms but it doesn't have that autoimmune response," Ailts said.

Barbra Larsen doesn't have gluten intolerance but still likes to stocks up on a variety of gluten free things.

"I spend a lot of time in the gluten free aisle because we have three close friends who are gluten intolerant, very gluten intolerant so I am always looking for things that taste good and that they will enjoy eating when they come to visit us," Larsen said.

Now more than ever, grocery stores are trying to fill the need with gluten free items. But this lifestyle is not for everyone, especially those who are just trying to lose weight.

"Lately there's been a fad diet, endorsed by a lot of celebrities where they go gluten free and they are losing weight but the evidence shows that a gluten free diet isn't actually beneficial for weight loss," Ailts said.

Experts say, foods that are naturally gluten free such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, eggs, nuts and beans are good to add to your diet. But don't take out whole grains, which include gluten if you're not gluten intolerant.

"Education is the biggest thing because there are a lot of things that we can buy that don't have gluten in it so it's just being Knowledgeable of those products," Lifto said.

Ten years ago, many Americans had never heard of gluten but now according to a survey, restaurant chains and food producers are now creating a multibillion-dollar business out of gluten-free products.

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