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If you’re gluten-free than this blog won’t be a surprise to you. If you’re not gluten-free than you have noticed the meteoric rise in gluten-free products and discussions…and perhaps people you know who are living a gluten-free lifestyle.

In the face of accusations that she was anorexic, Miley Cyrus announced through Twitter that she has a gluten and lactose allergy. Her tweet led to lots of dialogue about food allergies and whether or not gluten-free diets are good for people who don’t need to avoid gluten due to ailments.

Our complete line of Way Better Snacks is gluten-free and we get a lot of feedback from the gluten-free community so we thought we’d blog about it.

What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, malts and tritical. Gluten shows up in bread and pasta, but may also hide in many other foods, such as cold cuts, salad dressings, beer, and even licorice. It is often used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often as “dextrin”.

There are a few reasons that someone would consider themselves gluten-free:
- Celiac Disease – an autoimmune disease that can appear at any time in person’s life and can affect multiple systems and carry multiple symptoms. When individuals with CD eat gluten, the villi (tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food) become damaged and inflamed leading to a list of gastrointestinal symptoms, absorption issues and vitamin/mineral deficiencies.
- Gluten Intolerances / Wheat Allergies – can develop at any time and can also go away over time. Usually allergies to gluten or wheat are coupled with other food allergies such as dairy, eggs, and soy.
- They consider it to be healthier – Some people believe that eating gluten-free foods is healthier. However, not all gluten-free foods are healthy and many contain fillers and other junky ingredients so remember to read the labels! Also, unless you’re paying close attention to your diet you may find yourself deficient in some of the vitamins/minerals found in grains.

According to the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness:
- An estimated 3 million Americans suffers from Celiac Disease – which is 1 in 133 people.
- Only about 5% are diagnosed correctly
- Currently, a 100% gluten-free diet is the only treatment for Celiac Disease.

There is also lots of debate about why so many people are now experiencing food-related allergies including wheat. We are a fan of Robyn O’Brien, a former food industry analyst that has spent her time investigating the relationship between food allergies, genetically modified organisms (GMO), and other illnesses. She draws a connection between GMO crops, which were introduced in the US in the mid-1990s and the rise in food allergies. Interesting stuff.

So the trick with gluten-free foods (as mentioned above) is many of them are just as unhealthy as regular gluten-laden junk food. They still contain sugar, artificial additives and preservatives but just replace the gluten-containing component with other fillers. It’s important to read the labels of gluten-free foods to make sure you’re still getting something wholesome and simple. The other thing that gluten-free products are criticized for is a compromise on taste. Luckily, there are many companies who are addressing this and have come up with tasty alternatives to what is usually bland and lacking a nice consistency. As a side note, we are pleased to report that Way Better Snacks have been reported by our GF friends as very tasty!