Most have heard and seen the term Gluten Free for at least the last few years. Still, many are unfamiliar with what Gluten actually is, and why people either have to or choose not to eat it. Years ago, I was introduced to what Gluten is, and why it had become a big deal. I have two aunts who began explaining what it is, and why they absolutely could not consume it because they have Celiac Disease.
Yes, there is actually a disease associated with Gluten! More on Celiac Disease below.
So What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that can be found in wheat. Technically Gluten is “…composed of two different proteins: gliadin (a prolamin protein) and glutenin (a glutelin protein).” Although, Gluten is mostly found in wheat it can also be found in “…rye, barley and various crossbreeds…”
What Foods Can Contain Gluten?
Some obvious foods to avoid are bread, tortillas, pasta, cookies, pies, and cakes. However, there are many more that one may not consider. Beer, soy sauce, sometimes french fries, some salad dressings, and even some soups contain Gluten.
If you’re wanting to try a Gluten Free diet, the general list of foods above are great to cut out. However, if you have Celiac Disease or an intolerance to Gluten the list can be more complicated. A natural food diet would be best for anyone such as, “lean meats and fish, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy…quinoa and amaranth, are another healthy option.”
What is Gluten Sensitivity?
Gluten Sensitivity does not cause intestinal damage like Celiac Disease, but the symptoms are similar. Symptoms include: “headache, “foggy mind,” joint pain, and numbness in the legs, arms or fingers.” Other symptoms include: “…depression, ADHD-like behavior, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, …and chronic fatigue…”
There is now research showing how FODMAPs relates to Gluten Sensitivity, but “wheat, barley and rye – gluten-containing grains – are all high in FODMAPs.” Regardless if Gluten is to blame, these foods should still be avoided if you have the symptoms mentioned above. (I won’t get into what FODMAPs are on this post, but maybe in the future.)
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder ,“the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake”. When a person with Celiac Disease consumes Gluten, the small intestine gets damaged.
If you think you may have Celiac Disease, I recommend getting tested before you cut out foods with gluten, but try to get tested ASAP. I did not, and it has been a pain (literally) to implement gluten back in my diet so that the test results will be accurate (I have not been tested yet).
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Is the Gluten Free diet a Fad?
There are some that say excluding gluten from your diet is not safe, and that Gluten sensitivity doesn’t truly exist.
First of all let me say, Celiac Disease is a real thing, and it is potentially very dangerous (e.g. Cancer, iron deficiency, and osteoporosis, but let’s not forget that those with Celiac are not getting the nutrients their bodies need!) There are other ways to get the nutrients needed that normally come from foods containing Gluten. I know first hand that not eating Gluten can improve the symptoms mentioned above (lighter, not bloated, less irritable, less moody, more energized, less lazy, and no aches and pains).
Why now, what is different today verses years ago, and why has Gluten Free diets become so “popular”? There is no strong answer to this now, but wheat is consumed more now than ever, and this could be the cause. “…overall wheat consumption or an additive known as ‘vital wheat gluten’ are potential areas to explore in the future…”
Ultimately, you can think what you want, but for some the Gluten Free diet is not a “fad”, it can be a healthy lifestyle free of aches and pains that were thought to be “normal”. So please don’t put down those who choose or have no choice but to live “Gluten Free”.