According to Merrian-Webster, the definition of Gluten is: "a substance in wheat and flour that holds dough together".
Once again, my little mind is a bit confused. As a child and young adult I had many friends (and relatives), and knew folks from many other parts of the country, and I never heard of anyone suffering from the ill effects of "gluten". This, despite the fact we were
raised reared on a diet of Cherrios, Wheaties, and Sunbeam Bread. God forbid I mention our consumption of coconut cake, biscuits, and fried chicken - all these are truly gluten possessed.
It wasn't until I was in my late 40's when I first heard of a friend of mine's cousin's child suffered from Celiac Disease that I ever heard the term "gluten free". The disease, she explained to me was when digesting gluten triggered the body's immune system to damage the small finger like projections that line the small intestine that promote nutrient absorption. This would prevent nutrients from being absorbed properly into the body. In this case, the child was really ill and the mother had to learn a different way to shop and cook for him.
I could not imagine such a fate. First having a child one had to protect from such a horrendous disease and learn how to rethink how to shop, cook, and eat wheat and flour free in our world of bread, breading, cakes, cookies, and pasta. Obviously this was before the birth of the Gluten Free market.
Suddenly we have "Gluten Free" aisles in the grocery stores. A good 20% of my friends are now convinced that Gluten is the cause of every digestive, intestinal, or weight problem they have and have sworn off the evil stuff. There are articles stating "80% of those with Celiac Disease go un-diagnosed". According to an article on Healthy Living while there are those who suffer from Celiac Disease, more may just have a wheat allergy. My question is how many of those on the Gluten Free band wagon have been tested to know exactly what they have?
I'm not saying it is a passing fad. Giving the "Gluten Free" aisles in the grocery stores, it is a full fledged business now. However, if one looks closer they will see many of the Gluten Free products while free of Gluten are chocked full of fats, sugars, and carbs. Remembers the "Fat Free" diets of the early 1990's. I thought I was in nirvana. That was the diet for me. Once I found that I could eat an entire Entennman's Raspberry Danish Twist (all 5 servings) without a fat gram I was in heaven knowing I had not strayed from my diet. (Of course how I was going to lose weight given I had just consumed about 1500 calories was just a minor detail.) Also remember that Kate Gosselin's haircut (the one that looked as if it were done by a drunk stylist with great ambition) was also a fad. But digress.
I'm not saying that Gluten Free is all bad or that we may be carrying this a little far. Personally I'm not quite ready to swear off biscuits, fried chicken, and whole grain bread - the real stuff not some GF alternative. All I am saying is, as a country we love band wagons and are quick to jump on. This all came to mind this morning in the shower when I noticed that on the front of both of my DH's shampoo and conditioner bottles it read "100% Vegan Free - Gluten Free". Seriously? Well, I'm just going watch this parade.