It is estimated that some 18 million people in the US are sensitive to gluten with another 2-3 million suffering from celiac disease - a potentially serious autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine in response to gluten consumption. So what is gluten and how do we avoid it? Gluten is a protein found in wheat and related grain species including barley and rye. One of the issues for those who must avoid gluten is the fact that it is found in so many foods including breads, baked goods, pasta, beer, even lunch meats, lipsticks and certain medicines. However, despite a down and struggling economy, gluten-free foods have been booming with 2011 US gluten-free food sales forecasted at 1.3 billion - a number that has more than doubled since 2005. If you have ever felt bloated or experienced abdominal pains after eating foods that contain wheat, barley or rye, try a gluten-free alternative as you just may be one of the approximately 20 million Americans that has issues with gluten consumption.