Gluten Facts

Gluten-free products are showing up on grocery shelves everywhere and more and more people are tweaking their diets to reduce their gluten intake. However, many people have never heard of gluten allergies or gluten allergies. Gluten makes up 20 percent of global calorie intake and is a basic staple in many diets. It is found in wheat and other grains like rye, barley, and spelt. While you never go to the store to but a pound of it, it’s gluten that gives certain foods a great, chewy texture, helps dough to rise and is a vital ingredient in most your backed goods .

While gluten is a protein that can cause serious problems for some people, it’s very difficult to avoid. Not only is gluten the primary protein found in some grains, it shows up in unexpected places! You’ll find it in various brands of chocolate, imitation crab, soy sauce, certain vitamin brands and even some toothpaste!  Gluten is also difficult to digest completely. One out of thirteen people have celiac disease; for them gluten can be a matter of life or death. Celiac disease sufferers are so sensitive to gluten that even a very small amount  can cause serious illness, gluten damages the lining of their small intestines and can lead to a variety of health problems ranging from chronic diarrhea and abdominal cramping to osteoporosis. For them, being aware of the hidden gluten in products is a constant struggle.

You may not have celiac disease, but you can still be gluten-sensitive. If so, you should cut back on your gluten intake. There has been a significant increase in our gluten intake over the past 50 years and we are just beginning to understand the impact rise has on our health. How do you know if you’re gluten-sensitive?  Eating foods with gluten triggers different symptoms, the most common are:

  • stomach pains
  • bloating
  • heartburn
  • joint pains
  • headache
  • skin rashes
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • brain fog

If you are gluten-sensitive, it probably won’t require giving up gluten entirely. There are many gluten-free product to replace items in your current diet, such as crackers and pasta, and a gluten-free diet may not be that difficult, particularly if you’re already eating a mediterranean diet. Fill your plate vegetables and fruits, lean meats, fish and poultry, brown rice and quinoa, nuts and seeds, beans and other legumes, and healthy fats, like extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil.

If your symptoms are severe, be tested for celiac disease.  Diagnostic tests for celiac become unreliable if you are not eating gluten. It’s a test worth taking …  the results could transform your health!

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