As companies are increasingly advertising gluten-free on their products, questions are starting to pop up on the benefits or issues with gluten. Diets have been started, books have been written and people have started spending more money to add the phrase “Gluten-Free” to their chosen lifestyle. While this is an excellent advancement for the gluten-intolerant community, there seems to be some misconceptions concerning gluten.
Where is gluten found?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. However, due to the extensive processing of most foods we consume today, we find gluten showing up in places it normally would not. Ice cream, vitamin supplements, toothpaste and even the glue on envelope seals often contain gluten.
Why would someone choose gluten-free?
Celiac disease, gluten intolerance and wheat allergies are disorders that require constant attention and diet adaptation from those who suffer from them.
NOTE: These conditions are the only reasons an individual would be required to eliminate gluten from his or her diet.
What is celiac disease?
People with celiac disease lack the ability to absorb gluten in their intestines. When the gluten goes undigested, the protein triggers an immune response, resulting in damage to the intestines. These continual immune attacks can compromise the body’s ability to adequately absorb nutrients and result in permanent absorption problems.
How do I know if I have gluten intolerance?
Recently, there has been a significant increase in the amount of people with some type of intolerance to gluten. If you find yourself suffering from frequent bloating, diarrhea or abdominal pain, it is certainly worth being tested for. If you have an intolerance, it is best to avoid commercially processed foods completely. Fresh produce or meats and foods bearing the “gluten-free” stamp of approval are the safest way to go.
So, despite the rising confusion and concern, rest assured that gluten-free is not a trend or a fad diet. It is a way to manage the symptoms and prevent the consequences of a serious disease.