Pasta, bread and beer. Three of my favorite foods, and guess what? They all contain gluten. Personally, I would not be the best candidate for a gluten-free lifestyle, but it’s hard not to notice that tons of people are taking the dive.

With celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Gwyneth Paltrow advocating for it, cutting out gluten has become extremely popular.  So popular that according to new data from the NPD group, 29% of adults in the United States say that they want to cut down on the gluten they consume. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, and the number of people cutting down on gluten is the highest percentage the company has ever seen.

So, why cut out gluten? The medical reasoning is as a form of treatment for individuals who suffer from celiac disease, or a similar condition called gluten intolerance. Common signs of the disease are iron-deficiency anemia, diarrhea, lactose intolerance and fatigue.

Photo by Meghan Walsh

But only 1% of the population suffers from celiac, and many more people do it as a means of losing weight fast and adopting what they see as a healthier lifestyle.  The reality is, many end up gaining weight because often gluten-free products are higher in fat.

So is a gluten-free diet a passing fad? In an article from USA Today, registered dietician Judi Adams, president of the Wheat Food Council, says, “we respect all those people who have to go gluten-free, including people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and some people who have irritable bowel syndrome.

“But the people who are using it as a cleansing diet or calorie-controlled diet are using it as a fad diet, and as we all know fad diets do not work long term.”

When it comes to whether or not gluten-free leads to a healthier a life, the jury is still out.