Who are all these people who are trying to avoid gluten in their food? They may not be the usual suspects -- you know, the Santa Monica yoga instructor who drives a Prius and wears bamboo clothes.
It's been generally known that about one in five Americans -- about 20% -- say they try to avoid gluten while about the same number try to avoid gluten-free foods and the rest don't think much about it either way.
In a July poll, Gallup tried to pin it down a bit more. Researchers asked 1,009 Americans about the foods they include, or avoid, in their diet as part of its annual Consumption Habits poll. "Gluten-free foods" was included in the list this year for the first time.
They found that, while demographic differences were fairly minor, one in three nonwhite Americans, compared with only 17% of whites, said they active pursue gluten-free foods. Age didn't seem to be a major factor. Nor did gender.
More educated and wealthier Americans tend to be less likely to include gluten free-foods in their diet than Americans with no college experience and lower-income Americans, respectively, but these differences are also not large.
Gluten is a former of protein that's found in,wheat, rye and barley and their derivatives. It can damage the small intestine of people with celiac disease, which is estimated to affect 1,in 100 people -- 1% in other words -- worldwide.
Obviously, 1% is a lot smaller than 20% so why are all those non-celiac sufferers avoiding gluten like the plague?
Many Americans say they simply feel better when they avoid gluten, which is often added to bread, cereal and other packaged foods to boost the protein content.,
Consumers who try to pursue a "natural" diet with an emphasis on non-processed foods say gluten is just one of the additives they try to avoid. Some of them believe that foods containing extra amounts of gluten also contain other additives that upset their gastric tract.