TODAY   |  August 03, 2013

FDA issues new rules on ‘gluten-free’ foods

Labels declaring foods to be ‘gluten-free’ will need to meet new standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which are designed to protect patients with celiac disease, which affects nearly three million people in the United States. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports

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>> thanks. more people are saying they choose to go gluten-free because they think it could lead to a healthier lifestyle. for three million people living with celiac disease it isn't a choice. it's necessity. the fda is looking to protect them with new standards with what can be labeled gluten-free. here's more now from dr. nancy snyderman .

>> for georgia clark knowing which foods are gluten-free makes a difference for her daughter's health.

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

>> reporter: both have celiac disease , an intestinal disorder in which eating gluten causes pain and even malnutrition. gluten is found in any product including wheat, barley and rye. but eating gluten-free is a fad and big business . a more than $4 billion industry and growing. you can see gluten-free food everywhere from the super bowl to the ball field, even on the menu in restaurants. a recent survey estimated one in five americans buys or consumes a gluten- free product . that's far more than the number of people with celiac disease . erin hanes doesn't have celiac disease but is a health conscious yoga instructor who supplements with gluten-free food.

>> i feel better when i don't have glouten in my body. i can digest easier. i don't feel as bloated or heavy and i have better energy after i eat.

>> reporter: ex perts say gluten-free isn't necessarily better for you.

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

>> reporter: anyone shopping for a gluten-free diet needs to read labels carefully to separate the hype from the true health benefits . for "today," dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, princeton, new jersey.