05/14/2014 11:35 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Michael Pollan: Going Gluten-Free Is 'A Bit Of A Social Contagion'

Acclaimed food writer Michael Pollan is happy so many people are going gluten-free these days, but he said that with the exception of people with celiac disease, it's more of a fad than a medically necessary lifestyle change.

"Gluten, I think it's a bit of a social contagion. I think that the number of people that are genuinely gluten-sensitive cannot be growing as fast as the market niche is growing," Pollan said. "There are a lot of people that hear from their friends, 'I got off gluten and I sleep better, the sex is better, and I'm happier,' and then they try it and they feel better, too. The power of suggestion."

While he recognized that there is in fact a growing number of people who do fit the medical diagnosis of being a celiac, he said that often people feel better simply removing carbs from their diet, not necessarily gluten. However, he warns against going gluten-free and then adopting a diet high in processed foods.

"Some people get off gluten and then they get into this highly processed gluten-free category. Look at the ingredients in those gluten-free products," Pollan said. "It's a lot of xanthan gum and a lot of food additives that I ... wouldn't want to eat."

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with Michael Pollan below.

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  • 27 Because I could never eat this foccacia,
    Matthew O'Shea via Getty Images
  • 26 This bowl of ramen,
    Juan Paulo Gutierrez via Getty Images
  • 25 Or this BLT.
    Marta Greber via Getty Images
  • 24 Because I'd never again be able to start your morning with English muffins,
  • 23 Buttery biscuits,
    Iain Bagwell via Getty Images
  • 22 Doughnuts from Doughnut Plant in New York,
  • 21 Or everything bagels.
    (Those are pretty much pure gluten, let's be honest.)
    David McGlynn via Getty Images
    (Those are pretty much pure gluten, let's be honest.)
  • 20 PORK BUNS!!!!
    Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • 19 Because I'd never be able to order aloo paratha at an Indian restaurant,
    Howard Shooter via Getty Images
  • 18 Pita bread at a Middle Eastern restaurant,
    Photostock Israel via Getty Images
  • 17 Or scallion pancakes at a Chinese restaurant.
    James Baigrie via Getty Images
  • 16 Because I'd never again experience chocolate chip cookies that look like these,
  • 15 Or chocolate babka that looks like this.
    Janis Christie via Getty Images
  • 14 Because there's nothing as American as apple pie,
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  • 13 As French as a boule from Poilâne,
    Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • 12 Or as comforting as matzo ball soup.
    Janis Christie via Getty Images
  • 11 Because I could never celebrate your birthday with this cake,
    Fabrice LeRouge via Getty Images
  • 10 This brioche French toast,
    Boston Globe via Getty Images
  • 9 Or these soup dumplings.
    Jaime Hojje Lee via Getty Images
  • 8 BEER!!!!
    Chicago Tribune via Getty Images
  • 7 Because spaghetti cacio e pepe exists,
    The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • 6 And so does linguine con vongele,
    Lauri Patterson via Getty Images
  • 5 And so does this 100-Layer Lasagne from Del Posto in New York.
    (There are literally 100 layers. LITERALLY.)
    Joe Satran/The Huffington Post
    (There are literally 100 layers. LITERALLY.)
  • 4 Because I'd never be able to satisfy my sweet tooth with these palmiers,
    David Bishop Inc. via Getty Images
  • 3 These shortbread cookies,
    Image Source via Getty Images
  • 2 Or these brownies.
    Photo by Brian T. Evans via Getty Images
  • 1 But most importantly: PIZZA!!!!!
    I rest my case.
    ancient history/Flickr
    I rest my case.