Going Gluten Free for Health

It is one of the fast growing segments in the food market: gluten-free products have increased in sales, to the tune of $2 dollars last year, Dr. Bruce Hensel reported

Why is this trend exploding?  Because of people like Shari Cole and her family.

Five years ago, her daughter Brittany, who was diagnosed with mild autism, was having a lot of stomach aches.

Shari's father, who had celiac disease had an idea.

"He's the one that said why don't you put her on a gluten-free diet and see if it works," Cole said.

The switch took some adjustment, according to Brittany Cole: "I didn't think it was good, but my mom started making good gluten-free food. It changed my mind."

Shari says the diet resolved a lot of Brittany's gastrointestinal and focusing issues.

"She's a straight-A student in high school now. She's mainstreamed. She rides horses. She's in choir," Cole said.

"Increasingly gluten-free diets are being adopted by people to address a range of ills, from Autism to ADHD. While there is no scientific proof that gluten-free diets can treat these problems, some say it works," Dr. Hensel said.

Shari started experimenting in the kitchen with recipes that her kids like.  She and partners developed a line of products -- cookies, pastas, pizza dough -- called Gluten Free and Fabulous.

"It's a lot of rice based products that we blend and it's a science, it really is, cause you want your stuff to taste good," she said.

In 2007, 700 new gluten-free products were launched in the U.S.    And there are sure to be many more down the line.    

"Those who elect to go on the diet need to watch that they get adequate amounts of B vitamins, particularly folic acid. There are many different choices on the market. Remember there's no proof it treats anything but celiac disease," Dr. Hensel said.

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