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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What is gluten and is it a problem???

What is gluten, and why is it a problem? Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains such as barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and sometimes oats (because wheat and oat fields are often rotated).  The prefix of the term "gluten" gives away its definition. Think of gluten as a glue-like substance that gives wheat and other products their chewy structure.
Although the science is much more complex than the definition, gluten can be defined, in lay terms, as the sticky protein substance in wheat.

So what is up with this big "Gluten Free" craze and all the gluten free products everywhere.

First off..there are a group of people that their bodies can not digest gluten.  It is a disease called Celiac Disease.  Approximately 1 percent of the population suffers Celiac Disease, a condition that triggers diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating when gluten is consumed.  Symptoms of Celiac Disease include frequent diarrhea, constipation, boating, unintended weight loss, anemia, unexplained fatigue, headaches, mouth ulcers, bone or joint pain and, in children, a failure to grow.
This immune disorder is diagnosed through a blood test and intestinal biopsy.  It is believed that ssymptoms of gluten sensitivity can include a wide range of other health issues, such as arthritis, acne, eczema, lupus, migraines, chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowl, restless leg syndrome, depression, autism, dermatitis herpetiformis, etc. 
Gluten is extremely difficult to digest, and when an intolerance to it develops due to over-consumption or heredity, it irritates the lining of the intestinal walls, destroying the cilia that absorb nutrients, and causing inflammation and irritation of the bowels. Scientist believe that it is very under diagnosed and more of the population has it unknowingly.

Should I Go Gluten Free???
More and more groceries and health food stores stock gluten-free products. That’s good news for people with celiac disease, who for health reasons should not eat wheat with gluten.
Yet, most of the people who reach for gluten-free products don’t have celiac disease and or even a sensitivity to wheat. "The market for gluten-free products is exploding. Why exactly we don’t know. Many people may just perceive that a gluten-free diet is healthier." according to Web MD.
In fact, it isn't healthier food.  For people with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is essential. But for others, unless people are very careful, a gluten-free diet can lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber and will have added ingredients like sugar....

Some people may be sensitive to gluten but don’t have outright celiac disease. These people may feel better on a diet with less gluten.

Personally, I don't go gluten free. I don't have a problem with wheat or whole grain digestion at all. Actually, it helps my digestion (if ya know what I mean :D ). 

Gluten itself doesn’t offer special nutritional benefits. But the many whole grains that contain gluten do. They’re rich in an array of vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron, as well as fiber. Studies show that whole grain foods, as part of a healthy diet, may help lower risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. grain products.

Some people think that gluten free products will help you lose weight.  There is no evidence currently that supports that. If you do lose weight from going gluten free, it is most likely because in order to go gluten free, you are eliminating starches and carbs.  Some people have gained weight going gluten free. Huh? Yes! If you take something know the make it taste right you have to add stuff back in. They may contain additives and look at the sugar grams.  Gluten free foods are not very tasty so some add lots of sugar to improve the taste and texture.

If you honestly think that you have a gluten problem, check with your doctor and get tested.  Otherwise, personally, I see no advantages of going gluten free.

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