Gluten intolerance or celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine. The symptoms include pain and discomfort in the intestine and stomach, diarrhea, anemia, and fatigue. According to The Institute for Functional Medicine (2020), the incidence of celiac disease has increased by an average of 7.5% per year over the past several decades. The incidence was higher in females and children than in men.
The incidence of celiac disease among women is 17.4 per 100,000 persons per year, compared to 7.8 per 100,000 persons per year among men. Celiac disease incidence among children is 21.3 per 100,000 persons per year, compared to 12.9 per 100,000 persons per year in adults. Over the past few decades, the incidence of celiac disease has increased in many Western countries. According to The Institute for Functional Medicine, the global prevalence of celiac disease has been reported at 1.4% based on serologic tests, with prevalence values at 0.4% in South America, 0.5% in Africa and North America, 0.6% in Asia, and 0.8% in Europe and Oceania. The rise in incidence is also attributed to the increase in immune-based disorders independent of disease detection.
The current treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. Low gluten consumption helps the small intestine to heal, leading to a high preference for gluten-free products. Moreover, gluten-free products witness high demand from individuals suffering from other diseases, such as wheat allergies, inflammatory diseases, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Furthermore, government awareness campaigns and labeling of gluten-free products have been adopted to increase awareness about celiac disease and promote gluten-free products among the public in all regions. Hence, the rising incidence of celiac disease and other food allergies increases the demand for gluten-free products, which fuels the demand for pea starch as a key ingredient in gluten-free products. Pea starch is gluten-free and non-allergic and is increasingly used in various gluten-free products.
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