Cereals with glutenMany people discuss gluten free living these days. Many products in stores now have gluten free on the packaging and as much as 10% of new products being produced are gluten free. But what is gluten and why is it so important to avoid it?

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. When consumed, it can cause a slew of symptoms ranging from digestive distress to brain fog and fatigue. Most times, sensitivities to gluten go unrecognized or misdiagnosed.

According to mercola.com:

Under a decade ago, it was believed that Celiac Disease affected only one out of every 10,000 Americans. But a 2004 report based on research by Celiac Disease experts estimates that as many as one in every 133 Americans have the disease.

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune response that can occur in childhood or adulthood. When individuals who have Celiac Disease eat gluten, even in small amounts, damage occurs in the small intestine. This reaction causes distress and disturbs or completely inhibits the small intestine from absorbing nutrients.

According to celiac.org, classic symptoms of Celiac Disease may include:

Abdominal cramping, intestinal gas, distention and bloating of the stomach, chronic diarrhea or constipation (or both), steatorrhea – fatty stools, anemia – unexplained, due to folic acid, B12 or iron deficiency (or all), unexplained weight loss with large appetite or weight gain

As mentioned, 1 out of 133 Americans suffer from Celiac Disease. So what’s all the hype about being gluten free? Well, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a much more common condition. These people experience adverse reactions when they consume gluten but it is not thought that the small intestine is damaged. Signs of sensitivity may include bloating of the abdomen, fatigue, irritability, depression, constipation, or diarrhea. The fix for both Celiac Disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity involves eliminating gluten from the diet.

Grains containing glutenFor many people, this can be challenging at first. It involves a good understanding of what gluten is and how it is used. You must be a label reader and know what to look for. Wheat, barley, and rye should be eliminated. Oats are naturally gluten free, but often come in contact with gluten products during production. Therefore, gluten free oats are available. Beyond that, it is important to understand that gluten is often hidden in many products. One of the easiest ways to cut out gluten is to cut out processed foods and all grains. Some of the most common sources of hidden gluten are:

  • alcohol
  • cosmetics
  • dressings
  • sauces, soups, stews
  • soy sauce
  • fried foods

A gluten-free lifestyle can provide many benefits. Beyond healing and relieving the symptoms of gluten intolerance, many individuals experience weight loss as a result of properly going gluten free. The trick here is to not replace gluten filled products such as breads, crackers, and cakes with their gluten-free alternatives. Though the market for gluten free replacements is booming, these products are loaded with sugars and processed fats that can be detrimental to the body. Of course, it is alright to use these products sparingly, especially when you are transitioning and missing the foods you once enjoyed. Remember, gluten-free does not guarantee it is healthy.

As you begin a transition to gluten-free living, be sure to have plenty of healthy snacks and meal choices available to you. Many times finding gluten-free options at restaurants or at the vending machine is difficult. Be sure you are replacing the gluten-filled foods with a better option and not just eating less. You will be much more successful in transitioning if you are not starving yourself all of the time. Having lots of fresh fruits and vegetables available is one of the best ways to go gluten free. Also, be sure you are eating high-quality fats and proteins throughout the day.

For more information about how to transition to a gluten-free lifestyle or why gluten free is the way to go, ask Dr. Schulte or his staff who all live gluten-free lifestyles.

In addition, Dr. Schulte’s Advanced Clinical Degree in Nutrition Response Testing℠ allows him to check your body for sensitivities to foods.

Who knows, maybe easily getting out of bed in the morning or living without abdominal pain and bloating is just a consultation away! Click here to contact us, we would love to help!