Current Situation of Gluten-free Market in Japan

By Ms. Sayaka Futagami, Managing Director of Gluten Free Association

Awareness of “gluten-free” has just begun to rise in Japan, but many people only know the word and do not know the meaning, or they have a vague or incorrect understanding, thinking that it is type of diet for losing weight.

Since the word “diet” has a meaning of losing weight in Japanese, “gluten-free diet” is commonly believed as a way of losing weight. In reality, a gluten-free diet is originally associated with Celiac disease, gluten intolerances and/or allergies , where the patient cannot digest a certain type of protein called gluten included in wheat. While wheat starch is available in the market, there are possibilities for some gluten to be left in the starch so a general gluten-free diet completely avoid eating wheats.
Since barley and rye also contains similar protein found in wheat, a gluten-free diet avoids those items as well.

Why does gluten-free diet help you lose weight or look healthier? This is because some people do not realize that they have gluten allergies or intolerances and get better as a result of switching to a gluten-free diet. Various views exist in the Japanese medical field, but there is said to be two types of food allergies: immediate and delayed. For immediate allergies, symptoms will show shortly after the food is consumed and thus easier to notice. On the other hand, delayed allergies could take a few hours or even days for the symptoms to show and the reactions are weaker, making it more difficult to notice. It is said that there are many people with gluten allergies or intolerances and when those people switch to a gluten-free diet, constipation or diarrhea caused by poor digestion, skin problems, and general poor health get better. In addition, gluten-free diet will reduce the intake of processed foods that use sugar and oil and will make you healthier.

Despite this, grains such as wheat, barley, and rye are rich in important nutrition such as fiber, iron, zinc, and vitamin B. Therefore, people who are not allergic or intolerant to gluten or wheat should think carefully before they start a gluten-free diet. On the other hand, people who eat bread and pasta everyday saying that they “love bread” or “love pasta” may have a higher chance of getting allergic to wheat in the future, so having a gluten-free option in your diet would be highly recommended. There are cases when a huge fan of bread suddenly becomes allergic to wheat in his or her 40s or 50s.

Activities of Gluten Free Association

Established: August 2013
Purpose: Gluten Free Association engages in activities that spread and promote food safety, contribute to promote heath of the Japanese people, and conduct the following activities.

1. Enlightening activities that aim to increase the awareness of gluten-free
2. Proposing a gluten-free lifestyle as an activity to expand diet options
3. Ensure safety, or to spread gluten-free certification system to be specific
4. Planning and organizing events and exhibitions
5. Publications
6. Perform activities incidental to the activities set forth

Profile of Ms. Sayaka Futagami

Born in Tokyo in 1970. Acquired Master of Science in Physical Chemistry at Keio University and Master of Science in Biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University. Currently Managing Director of Gluten Free Association, and Founder & CEO of CECILIA Inc. Having a family member allergic to flour, begins the first gluten-free specialty store in Japan. A year later, establishes Gluten Free Association to enlighten the Japanese people and spread gluten-free in Japan.