BY MALLORY HARMON
Gluten intolerance, gluten-related discomfort, and celiac disease (allergy to gluten), have become advancing issues in America causing myriad health problems. Gluten is known to cause skin disorders, tiredness, digestive malfunction, migraines, and much more. When those who are affected by celiac disease consume gluten, the body’s immune system launches an attack on the small intestine. This attack can lead to severe and even permanent damage to the digestive system. There is no cure for gluten intolerance besides simply cutting it out of your diet altogether. However, if celiac patients are vigilant about what they consume, the damage done to their digestive system will slowly heal over time.
Gluten intolerance or sensitivity is an annoying, not to mention painful, hassle for the 18 million people in the United States who suffer from one form of gluten associated discomfort. However, in recent years, not only gluten intolerant individuals, but also many other health mindful shoppers have been pursuing gluten-free products. Not only do these buyers aim for originally non-gluten foods such as fruits, vegetables, rice, and other fresh produce, but also manufactured foods with gluten replacements. Grocery stores all across the nation have eagerly risen to the occasion and worked hard to expand their gluten-free selections.
Many sources state that gluten can be a major contributor to heart problems and even obesity in America. Due to this evidence, health conscious individuals have started a movement, which has become a national craze. Unfortunately, at rst, gluten free shoppers had to travel to several different establishments to collect the groceries needed to adhere to their diet, voluntary or otherwise. Grocery stores, ever aware of their customers’ desires and needs, have succeeded in making it much easier to collect a wide variety of gluten-free foods in one place.
As more large suppliers jump on the gluten-free bandwagon, however, shoppers with actual health issues related to gluten have to be more cautious when purchasing supposedly ‘gluten free’ foods. It is highly tedious for manufacturers to rid food-processing machinery of all gluten remnants when switching over to non-gluten production. Due to this inconvenience, gluten- intolerant individuals often nd the need to purchase their foods from more local, small business brands to ensure the reliability of the product.
As a testament to the plight of gluten intolerance, Savannah Zenger, a local teenager, describes the effects of this inconvenience on her everyday life. Savannah found out approximately two years ago that the culprit behind her ongoing illness was none other than gluten. She cut gluten from her diet and, although her health has improved, she now faces the struggles of maintaining a completely gluten free diet. She describes the frustrating annoyance of not being able to fully participate in pizza parties or grab a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts to devour with friends.
Nonetheless, Savannah goes on to say that due to countless online recipes, gluten alternatives, and restaurant flexibility, she has both conquered the craving for gluten and has become accustomed to her new diet. She also explains, “I feel so much healthier after going totally gluten free. It is much better for your health, and it builds up your immune system. Yes,” she continues, “some gluten replacements do actually taste like cardboard, but if you know the right brands to buy, you won’t be able to tell the difference.”
Thankfully, grocery stores do not view the gluten-free preference as a passing fad and are continuing to focus on making it easier to collect non-gluten products across the country. The bene ts of this change are irrefutable. Yes, the free market has shifted to meet a growing trend, but the fad is far outweighed by the health necessity of the gluten free diet for millions of Americans.