Scientific American presents Nutrition Diva by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

As I'm sure you've noticed, gluten-free diets have become wildly popular, even among those who do not have Celiac disease. With all the models and actresses insisting that shedding gluten keeps them thin and top tennis pros claiming that avoiding gluten improves their stamina, it's no wonder that gluten-free has become a major diet trend.

Despite all this, many experts insist that there is no reason for people without Celiac disease to avoid gluten. For one thing, avoiding gluten does not automatically lead to weight loss. Many people, in fact, gain weight when they go gluten-free, for reasons I explored in my episode on gluten-free diets. Cutting out wheat and other gluten-containing grains can also increase the risk of certain nutrient deficiencies if you're not paying attention. Suffice it to say that a gluten-free diet is not automatically a healthy diet - nor is it a cure-all.

On the other hand, many people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) find that their symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet - even when they do not have Celiac disease. This is so common, in fact, that the medical profession has assigned a name to the phenomenon: Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). But an interesting new study finds that gluten may not be the culprit after all.

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