Gluten-Free diet

Understanding Gluten-Free

The latest diet trends and fitness fads come and go….It is always interesting when a diet seems to be based on health and nutrition information. In the last decade, we have seen fat free fade away, when it was revealed to us that there are “good fats” and “bad fats”.

Lately there are some interesting diets out there. I’ve been trying to eat healthier and looking into going gluten-free. The wheat free diet is developing a following in the medical community. It works for weight-loss and has health benefits Here’s the skinny!

What is Gluten-Free?

If you go gluten-free you are going to avoid the protein gluten. Unfortunately, gluten is everywhere in the modern American diet. It’s found in most grains like barley, wheat and rye, as well as, in triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye).

Until you start trying to go gluten-free you may not realize how often wheat is mixed into our daily eats. The Mayo Clinic says that the varied types of wheat flour can be labeled as; enriched, plain, self-rising, bromated, and watch out for graham flour, farina, and spelt. Basically no beer…no bread…no candy, and I thought that those were food groups.

Before you go bonkers trying to read the labels you might want to consider just eating food labeled “gluten-free”. In my case, I needed to decide if it was worth it.

Why Go Gluten-Free?

They are estimating that 1 out of every 3 people suffer will suffer from some type of food allergy or food intolerance. In the case of serious gluten intolerance or if you have celiac disease go gluten-free immediately and don’t look back.

Gluten Allergies and Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that hits your digestive system. It disrupts the way your body absorbs healthy nutrients. You can get very sick with celiac. Actually celiac is not actually an allergy, but a form of food intolerance. So you are actually not able to digest (can’t tolerate) what you are eating. Other people do have gluten allergies that can be severe and, if left untreated, life threatening.

When a celiac sufferer eats gluten, their body reacts ( gluten is perceived as an infection or threat) and sends antibodies to fight off the invader. The anti-bodies end up doing more harm than good to your tissues (the intestinal tract). Antibodies cause serious impairment to the villi, located in the lining of the intestinal walls. When the villi are damaged, they can’t absorb healthy nutrients; because they are too busy rejecting the gluten.

Medical technology has recently revealed that celiac disease is not a rare condition. It affects as many as 1 in 130 Americans, whether they are diagnosed or not. Food and gluten allergies aren’t rare either, so if you are having symptoms get it checked out.

Symptoms include a myriad of digestive issues including; upset stomach, gas, diarrhea and cramps. Serious cases have chronic symptoms like lack of energy, decreased mental clarity, and muscle pain and aches. This is a disease with no cure. If you remove the gluten from your diet you usually remove all the symptoms.

If you have celiac or gluten allergies, run don’t walk to the “gluten-free” aisle at your supermarket!

Is it Worth Switching to a Gluten-Free Diet?

Food manufacturers are acknowledging the gluten-free movement with a variety of gluten-free food products. This is a step in the right direction, but buyer beware….even gluten-free foods may not be that healthy. Watch out for gluten-free processed foods that have high sugar content, artificial ingredients and “bad” fats.

The gluten-free diet has a growing number of advocates. Medical and nutritional information regarding celiac disease and food intolerances are driving the numbers. But there are overall health benefits to going gluten-free, as well. Getting off carbohydrate/calorie rich wheat products is an amazing way to lose weight and keep it off, reduce your blood pressure, and your cholesterol.

So as I ask myself if it’s worth it to go gluten-free more and more people are making the switch.

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