Making Sense of Gluten
Non-GMO, Cage Free, Farm-to-Table, Organic, Paleo, Gluten-free… as nutrition takes on a larger role in the media culture, we constantly hear new buzzwords and trends that can sometimes puzzle us.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye and can also be used in foods as a flavoring agent, thickener, or texture enhancer. Many foods containing gluten, such as whole wheat and whole grains, make up part of a healthy well balanced diet and are a great source of complex carbohydrates. For many, gluten is digested and tolerated by the body without any issues. However, a gluten-free diet seems to be more common than ever. A gluten-free diet (free of wheat, barley, and rye) is recommended for people that have Celiac Disease or a gluten sensitivity or intolerance. According to recent studies, the number of people affected by these conditions has been on the rise for a couple of reasons:
- The addition of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) into most peoples’ diets can cause an intestinal buildup of a protein that has been shown to cause problems with the digestion of gluten in otherwise healthy individuals.
- The typical American diet includes a much greater volume of gluten than ever before, which could worsen previously existing gluten sensitivity.
Did You Know?
- Celiac Disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food.
- Some women develop Celiac Disease after pregnancy or childbirth.
- “Gluten” comes from the Latin word glue, meaning a sticky substance.
- GlutenFreeLiving.com contains yummy gluten-free recipes for you and your friends to share!
What Should You Do?
If you think gluten may be causing harm to your body…
- Know the symptoms. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can include stomach pains, bloating, heartburn, joint pains, headache, skin rashes, fatigue, insomnia and brain fog. Try cutting out gluten for 3-4 weeks and see if there is any improvement in your symptoms. If so, you may be gluten sensitive.
- Know your risk factors. Risk factors include a family history of the condition, other autoimmune conditions (i.e. thyroid, Type 1 diabetes), and certain genes.
- Consult with your doctor. If you think gluten may have a negative effect on your body it is important to bring this to your doctor’s attention. Your doctor can test you for Celiac Disease or food allergies to gluten or wheat.
Sources: National Institutes of Health, Celiac Disease Foundation, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Institute for Responsible Technology, LifeWork Strategies and Adventist HealthCare.