Growing up, I was plagued by a painful, itchy rash that covered large swaths of my legs and arms and made me a frequent visitor to the dermatologist's office. Following doctor's orders, I switched to hypoallergenic laundry detergents, soaps and personal care products but saw little improvement. Never was there any discussion about my diet or the food allergies of close relatives.
Fast forward to a few years ago, when a friend persuaded me to try an elimination diet, where you abstain from eating specific foods for a number of weeks and then add them back into your diet to test for an allergic reaction. For the entire elimination period I was itch-free, but a few hours after I began eating wheat again the scratching started. Ever since I've been gluten free.
Gluten-free diets are gaining in popularity, and a recent KQED Forum segment explored the factors behind the growing number of people choosing this lifestyle. Show guests, including Nielsen Fernandez-Becker, MD, associate director of Stanford's celiac management clinic, also discussed the potential health benefits and risks of going gluten-free, and the latest scientific research on the topic.