This is a very important topic and you have probably been hearing about gluten in the media and internet. It is important to first know what gluten is.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a mixture of proteins (including gliadins and glutenins) that are found in wheat and related cereal grains such as barley and rye. Gluten is combined with starch in the tissue produced in seeds that’s ground to make flour (called endosperm) in various grass-related grains.
Gluten gives dough its elastic texture, helping it rise and keep its shape. It also gives the food a chewy texture.
Where is Gluten Found?
Gluten is found in wheat, rye, kamut, spelt, barley and probably oats as well as foods that are made from them. This includes breads, cereals, pastas and most processed foods.
Why is Gluten a Problem?
Due to modern agricultural practices our grains can contain upto 90% more gluten than they did prior to 1960. Some people are gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive, which means their bodies produce an abnormal immune response when it breaks down gluten from wheat and other related grains during digestion.
What is Celiac disease?
The most well-known form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, it then triggers an immune response that damages their intestines and prevents them from absorbing critical nutrients.
What are symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity?
Recently, scientists have become aware of another form of intolerance called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
If you have any of the following symptoms it could mean that you have gluten intolerance or sensitivity:
- Digestive issues such as bloating, gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation after eating gluten.
- Fatigue or brain fog after eating a meal that contains gluten.
- Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness, headaches or feeling of being off balance.
- Hormone imbalances such as PMS (Pre-menstural syndrome), PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome) or unexplained infertility.
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoariasis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.
- Migraine headaches.
- Diagnosis of Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
- Joint & muscle pain and Inflammation: Swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips and muscles including back and neck.
- Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, panic attacks and ADD.
How can I test for Gluten intolerance or Gluten sensitivity?
One of the easiest, practical ways to see if you have an issue with gluten is to go through an elimination diet and remove gluten products out of your diet for at least 2 -3 weeks and see how you feel. You can then slowly introduce it back in your diet and keep track of any symptoms that may come back. However, gluten is a very large protein and it can take months and even years to clear from your system. So the longer you can eliminate it from your diet before reintroducing it, the better it will be for you.
In general, if someone feels significantly better when off of gluten or feel worse when reintroducing it, then gluten is likely a problem for them. In order to get the most accurate results from this type of testing, you must eliminate 100% of the gluten from your diet.
Gluten free diets have become more popular over the past five years. This probably indicates that people are discovering that a gluten free diet based on unprocessed fresh foods, unprocessed gluten free grains and foods that are chemically-free may be beneficial for those with gastrointestinal problems and for people that want to improve the quality of their health!