Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Requested Topic: Gluten

Today, you can enter a grocery store and within minutes see a package that is labeled gluten free.  Everyone is starting to get obsessed about gluten and eliminating it from their diets. 

What is gluten?  Is it bad for you?  Should everyone eat a gluten free diet?

Let's answer those questions.

Gluten, simply put, is the "sticky substance in wheat." 

Gluten makes our food delicious.  However, one in two-hundred people who have celiac disease, gluten is very harmful.  Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing important nutrients.  The damage is caused by consuming gluten (wheat, barley, rye, and oats).   

What are some of the symptoms of celiac disease?  Chronic diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain or bloating, unexplained weight loss, anemia, fatigue, and infertility.

Gluten is relatively new to the human diet.  Our bodies aren't used to digesting it.  So even if you're not having a reaction to gluten, it might be causing some harmful effects on your body.  It's predicted that there will be more cases of celiac disease in the next few years.  Not only celiac disease, but autoimmune diseases that can be caused by a sensitivity to gluten.  Autoimmune disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Eating a gluten free diet may not be enough.  Healing the gut from all that damage takes a long time.  Eating a plant-based diet that eliminates gluten is the best way to heal with food.  Make sure to take a probiotic with a micro-organism count of 20 billion.  Diet and the probiotic will help your body start healing.

When you eat a gluten free diet, you have to do a lot of research.  I have a friend with celiac disease.  I'm hoping to get her to be a guest blogger, when she has more time, to talk about her experience.  She asks a lot of questions when she goes out to eat or when she's at the grocery store.  She needs to know where everything is made and how it's made.  She needs to know the ingredients and have them adjusted when needed.  One time, she was telling me about how she makes a gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner.  She has to look for gluten even where you would never think you'd have to.  When she buys a turkey, she has to know where they process it.  Some places wash the bird, before plucking, with a solution that contains gluten.  When she told me this, I still ate meat.  I remember thinking that I would never think about asking that.  I still wouldn't to this day.  The food industry puts gluten in a lot of our foods.  It's not a simple ingredient to cut out of one's diet.  However, for majority of people it's necessary.

Not everyone needs to cut out gluten.  However, we all could probably cut way back on gluten.  I do not have a sensitivity to gluten, to my knowledge.  So I have no plan, at this time, to cut gluten out of my diet.  Although, next time I get a check-up, I will make sure to get tested for a gluten sensitivity.  I do know that I want to cut my intake in half.  I have always loved pasta.  So I eat too much whole wheat pasta.  I measure it out and make sure to eat a lot of vegetables.  I can make sure to only eat it once or twice a week and then stick to brown rice, quinoa, or other gluten-free grains the rest of the week.

Make sure you talk to your doctor before switching your diet.  You want to make sure to eat well balanced meals and get the proper nutrients.  Do your research.

I hope this answers some of your questions about gluten.  If you still have any questions, please post a comment and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

My resources:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gluten-free-diet/my01140 - has a list of foods you can and cannot eat on a gluten-free diet.

"Keep Moving Forward"

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