What in the World is Gluten?

By Escali in Healthy Living

Gluten has received a mass amount of attention in recent years and much of that has been negative. If you go and look at any food label, you will notice many with bold words, in all capitals, “GLUTEN FREE!” Sure, that sounds great because you want to eat as healthy as possible but what even is gluten? Why is it so bad and should we all be as scared of it as we are?

According to the Mayo Clinic, gluten is a protein that is found in grains such as barley, rye, wheat and triticale which is a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten is the offender for those who have Celiac disease. Celiac disease is inflammation of the small intestine in which the villi become damaged and nutrients are unable to be absorbed. People who have this disease have an immune reaction that ends up damaging the small intestine and causes gastrointestinal distress and nutritional deficiencies. If untreated, Celiac disease can cause intestinal cancers and complications such as infertility and osteoporosis.

{As quoted in the article, “Is Gluten Bad for Your Body?,” in Women’s Health Magazine,  Alessio Fasano, M.D., Medical Director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore, states that one in 33 American have Celiac disease.}

According to the Gluten Intolerance Group, the following are some of the symptoms that accompany Celiac disease:

  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility
  • Skin irritation
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Concentration and memory problems

The inability to process nutrients caused by the disease can also greatly affect one’s health. There are many forms of Celiac disease including classical (gastrointestinal), non-classical (extra-intestinal) and silent or sub-clinical.

Gluten intolerance doesn’t just signal Celiac disease however, symptoms of discomfort can also signal Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. People that have Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity can lead to symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhea and bloating.

Don’t let all of this information completely scare you off from eating foods that have gluten in it because virtually everything has gluten in it. Gluten is added to everything from salad dressing to soy sauce to seasonings. When a food label says gluten free, it doesn’t necessarily mean fat-free or calorie-free so it is important to be aware of that fact. Before you try to go on a gluten-free diet because it seems like everyone else is, consult your physician. “There’s nothing magical about a gluten-free diet that’s going to help you lose weight,” said Mark DeMeo, M.D., Director of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the Adult Celiac Program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, as quoted in “Is Gluten Bad for Your Body.”

It is important to know that if you are trying to follow a gluten free diet, there are specific foods that are allowed and some that are not.

Avoid the following:

  • Beans
  • Seeds and nuts (in general)
  • Fresh eggs
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Most dairy products and fresh meats
  • Fish and poultry (non-marinated, not breaded)

It is misconceived that all grains are completely exiled in a gluten-free diet. If you’re going gluten-free, you can still consume: flax, corn and cornmeal, tapioca, teff, rice, quinoa, arrowroot, soy, amaranth and gluten-free flours such as rice, soy, corn, potato and bean. The grains that you should avoid are rye, wheat, triticale (cross between wheat and rye) and barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar). To see a list of gluten-free flours, click here.

Unless labeled gluten free–avoid: such as beer, croutons, pastas, breads, candies, soup and soup bases, cookies and crackers, sauces including soy sauces, processed luncheon meats and self-basting poultry.

Gluten is often misconceived, but if you feel that you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed, you should consult your physician. Gluten is pretty much in all of our food so unless you shop for labels that specifically say “gluten free,” most of us are able to metabolize and handle gluten in our diets. Unless you find out that you can’t consume  gluten for your health… eat up, enjoy your food and stop worrying so much!

Disclaimer:  The Escali Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  more


Disclaimer:  The Escali Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. more – See more at: https://www.escali.com/blog/facts-about-cholesterol/#sthash.NftQl89O.dpuf
Disclaimer:  The Escali Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. more – See more at: https://www.escali.com/blog/facts-about-cholesterol/#sthash.NftQl89O.dpuf

 

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