Gluten is a protein naturally found in wheat, barley and rye. It gives a chewy texture to breads and can be extracted and used in the manufacturing of other food products such as imitation meats, condiments and animal feed. It is a hot topic in nutrition as many Americans are cutting out gluten and finding that they feel better. Is cutting out gluten necessary for all people?
A gluten free diet is the only treatment for a person with the autoimmune disorder called celiac disease. Celiac disease is disease where the body recognizes gluten as a harmful substance and in the process damages the vili of the small intestine, interfering with the absorption of nutrients from food. It is estimated that 1% of the population has celiac disease and there is a strong genetic tie to celiac disease. Common symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, depression, infertility, headaches and fatigue. It often takes many years (6-10 years) to diagnose as the symptoms are similar to many other illnesses.
When someone begins to follow a gluten free diet they find themselves eating less breads and processed foods and eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains that do not contain gluten. This type of a change in dietary intake will make most people lose weight and feel better regardless of if they have celiac disease or not. There is limited scientific evidence that suggests everyone should be following a gluten free diet.
It is a good idea to take a look at what is going into the body and really thinking about how it is affecting energy, sleep and weight management. Maybe a doughnut replaced with an apple or carrot sticks for a work break would not only be ‘gluten free’ but a good idea for overall health.
Grains that do not contain gluten: