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The Boston Globe

Food & dining

Gluten: fact or fad or a bit of both?

Blame it on Gwyneth, or Miley, or Victoria Beckham, or even Chelsea Clinton’s wedding cake. Or on the Paleo diet or the best-selling book “Wheat Belly.” Or on improved awareness and diagnoses, or diets centered around processed foods, or changes in wheat itself.

Whether fact or fad, or a bit of both, gluten avoidance has become a way of life for millions of Americans. According to a study by the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, nearly one out of 133 Americans suffers from celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disorder, in which all foods with gluten, found in wheat and other grains, must be avoided. According to the center’s figures, another 18 million people, or 6 percent of the population, have gluten sensitivity; symptoms may range from gastrointestinal issues to behavioral problems to joint pain and osteoporosis. And then there are countless people avoiding gluten because they think it’s simply a healthier way to eat, or because they believe it will result in weight loss.

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