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    Growing trend of going gluten-free

    9:07 PM, Feb 19, 2014   |    comments
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    Going gluten free with Celiac Disease

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - What if a diet could cure your headaches, infertility, ADHD, psoriasis, or even some forms of cancer? The increasingly popular gluten-free diet has believers claiming it's possible.

    In a THV 11 Extra, Alyse Eady finds out if getting rid of gluten - could get rid of your health problems.

    It's been three years since Paula Dempsey opened the only gluten-free bakery in Arkansas. She said, "It's the fastest growing segment of the food industry."

    In fact, 50 percent of her lunch crowd at Dempsey's Bakery eats gluten free.

    Eight years ago her husband made the change for health reasons. And to help with grocery costs, Paula quickly followed.

    So far, it's had its benefits. She said, "I'd had severe hip pain for 30 years. "When you have severe pain and then it's gone, oh my gosh! You feel, I can't even tell you how...you feel free."

    Harriet Larson is a diabetes nurse educator at Baptist Health in Little Rock. She said, "Gluten is a protein found in wheat. Their intestines do not have the enzymes capable of digesting the protein, gluten."

    Health statistics show 25 million Americans must eat gluten free. In 2004, gluten intolerance levels were 1 in 2500 worldwide. Today, it's 1 in 133 people.

    In fact, some famous names have made the lifestyle change including Victoria Beckham, Miley Cyrus, Elizabeth Hasslebeck, Al Roker, and NFL star Drew Brees. Larson said, "I think genetically modified foods have gotten a lot of attention lately. Something has changed. Environmental issues, something has changed."

    Many health experts agree, pinpointing one change in the way wheat is now made. And while most go gluten-free for health reasons, many others use the products for weight loss. Larson said, "Gluten free options are numerous now. Kroger grocery store managers tell me that these gluten free items are flying off the shelves."

    There's pasta, cereal, and even cake mixes. As for the cost of eating gluten free, it can add up. The extra cost of a special diet is not reimbursed by health care plans and most policies don't pay for trips to a dietitian to receive nutritional guidance.

    Larson said, "At this point, I don't think insurance has the proper coding for this."

    Paula said baking gluten free can be time consuming. It requires more ingredients and she says it's difficult to find experienced help. She said, "There's no place you can go get a gluten free baker. There's no school right now."

    As for the future of gluten free living, Dempsey expects the numbers to continue climbing. Dempsey said, "I suspect in five years, at least 50% of the population will be eating gluten free."

    Remember, gluten can be found in a number of less obvious foods like soy sauce, salad dressings, beer, even pickles. Experts remind you to talk to your doctor before starting a new diet.

    If you are interested in Dempsey Bakery, you can find them at 323 S Cross St. in downtown Little Rock. You can reach them at (501) 375-2257 or http://www.dempseybakery.com.

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