Nightly News   |  August 02, 2013

Going gluten-free may not be worth it

The no-gluten trend has become a $4 billion industry, attracting people who don’t have a medical reason to avoid gluten. Going gluten-free, however, isn’t necessarily the healthier alternative -- it’s important to read nutrition labels carefully to evaluate the true health benefits. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> as we mentioned before the break our health news is about gluten free food just about everywhere one of the biggest food trend we have seen in years. today the fda said foods labeled as gluten free will need to meet new standards. to protect the 3 million americans who suffer from a disease that actually need it as opposed to those who think it must be good for them too. our report tonight from our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman .

>> reporter: for georgia clark knowing which food are gluten free makes a serious difference for her daughter's health.

>> this is not a choice. a lifestyle that they have to live now for health reasons. and so, i am -- personally choosing to buy products from those manufacturers. and i know other people probably are as well. but having the government put their stamp of approval on it, huge.

>> reporter: both have a disease, an intestinal disorder in which eating gluten can cause pain, malnutrition and it is in products containing wheat, barley and rye. eating gluten free has become a fad for millions who don't have the condition. and it is big business groechlgt you can see gluten free food everywhere. from the supermarket to the ball field and on menus and restaurants. one in five million americans been or consume the gluten free product. far more than the number of people with the disease. aaron hayes does not have the disease but is a health conscious yoga instructor who supplements with gluten-free foods.

>> i feel better when i don't have gluten in my body. i am able to digest my food easier. i don't feel as bloated or as heavy. and i have better energy after i eat.

>> reporter: but experts say gluten free is not necessarily better for you.

>> the gluten-free foods are becoming healthier, but in the past they have been very low in fiber, high in fat, high in sugar, high in calories. they're not likely to lose weight because these foods have the same if not more calories than their comparable alternatives.

>> reporter: so many one who is shopping for a gluten-free diet need to read the label carefully to separate the hype from the true health benefits . dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, princeton, new jersey.