IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - More businesses are offering gluten-free options, driving the demand for gluten-free products is an increased awareness for gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.
Local grocery store shelves are lines with gluten-free pretzel twists, gluten-free bread mixes, burritos, pizzas, desserts and more. Everywhere you look, you see the gluten-free label.
"I started going gluten-free maybe 15 years ago," said Dasha Ayzin, co-owner of Wealth Of Health Natural Market in Idaho Falls.
Gluten, a protein composite, acts like glue by binding together the ingredients in things like bread, crackers and pasta. People with gluten sensitivity have reactions like stomach aches and bloating.
Celiac is an auto-immune disease, also known as gluten intolerance. It is a genetic disorder that affects at least 1 in 140 Americans. Celiac disease is a problem with digesting gluten. Symptoms include gas and bloating, weight loss, and fatigue
Ayzin said she made the decision for health reasons when she was experiencing stomach problems, skin issues, bloating, gas and discomfort.
She experimented with her diet by taking out gluten and adding it back in.
"So I went back to eating gluten-free, and all those issues cleared up," said Ayzin.
James McGuire, a physician at Community Care in Idaho Falls, said he commonly sees patients with gluten issues.
"We see 70 people a day, so in the course of two days, there there are always two people that are coming in with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease," said McGuire.
The newly-diagnosed patients are turning gluten-free foods into a $12.4 billion industry.
That means more sales for owner of Wealth of Health owner Bill Ayzin.
"A lot of people who went undiagnosed for the last 10, 20 or 30 years are now coming in with the diagnosis," said Ayzin.
"It's auto-immune," said McGuire. "The big three culprits here is the triangle, barley, wheat and rye. We forget how common these things are. It's not a matter of eating pastrami on rye, it's in binders for candies and all kinds of products. It's everywhere."
Bill and Dasha Ayzin help guide customers to a gluten-free lifestyle.
Dasha Ayzin said people who think they can lose weight on a gluten-free diet may not realize gluten-free foods often have more calories and less fiber.
"It's not a gimmick, it's not a fad, its not going to be gone tomorrow. It's a very serious condition that more and more people are finding out they have," said Bill Ayzin.
Many people say gluten-free is too expensive, but the Ayzins said they have seen prices go down because the demand has gone up.
If you think you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, doctors can do a series of lab tests and a biopsy of your small intestine to confirm a diagnosis.