Nutrition & Health

Do I Need to be Gluten Free?

Gluten

Gluten free diets have gained a lot of attention in the world of nutrition. They are a staple diet for many people today. Just walk into a grocery store and you will see an abundance of food items labeled gluten-free. They even have their own section! So, what is gluten? It’s a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some oats. It’s increasing in popularity at the speed of lightning. Maybe you would like to know about the vast world of gluten conditions…

The different between the three major gluten-related conditions;  Celiac disease, wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Celiac is an autoimmune disorder directly affected by the protein, gluten. After digesting, your immune system reacts by damaging intestinal villi, causing malabsorption of many essential nutrients. What’s the cure? A lifelong, gluten-free diet is the only treatment, whomp whomp.

A wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to wheat-containing foods. This differs from celiac disease because absorption of nutrients in not affected. Damage to the intestines doesn’t happen. Phew!

definition of gluten, gluten free

Image source: www.eatright.org

 

Gluten sensitivity. Used for individuals who experience stomach problems after eating the protein. You start feeling bloated, maybe abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, mood changes, joint and muscle pain, arm or leg numbness, etc.

The first two conditions, celiac disease and wheat allergy, are only confirmed through a blood test…

 

DIY Test for the Rest

How to know if you are gluten intolerant? Follow a gluten free diet for 3 weeks – minimum.  If symptoms improve, try the gluten challenge. Introduce gluten back into your diet and see what happens. Ding-ding! A gluten-sensitivity is likely confirmed if the symptoms come back within hours or a few days.

Suggestion: If you are considering a gluten-free diet, do not rely solely on “gluten-free”, labeled food items. Think about whole foods that are allowed – this is super important. Focus on vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, most dairy products, beans and unprocessed nuts and seeds. Consuming a variety of foods will supply necessary vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy body!

See my article, 5 Reasons to Ditch Your Diet , for reasons you should not eliminating food groups and whole nutrients unless diagnosed

 

By Stacey Orner RD

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