What is gluten? It is a protein found in wheat and grains. It starts as two protein strands, glutenin and gliadin that, when mixed with water, link together like glue to form strands. It’ found in the seeds of wheat, and, because of its sticky quality, it’s used in foods to hold ingredients together, mostly in things like bread, pasta, crackers, cereal, salad dressings and lunch meats.
When consumed, gluten, because of its binding nature, causes damage to the intestines, as it clings when it should be sliding through the digestive system, resulting in internal inflammation and problems in food absorption and digestion. It is linked to belly fat, chronic pain, increased risks for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer, and can also lead to severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Celiac is an allergy to gluten. Gluten sensitivity is different, but both need to be confirmed by blood tests. Some symptoms of Celiac are: iron deficiency/anemia, depression or anxiety, canker sores, an itchy skin rash, bone or joint pain, arthritis, or migraines.
But, Celiac is more than just an intolerance to gluten. It’s an autoimmune disorder where 85% of those that suffer from it are not diagnosed. Celiac, as well as gluten sensitivity, is very real and extremely problematic for those that suffer from it. Because of its effect on the intestines, it can lead to many long-term problems such as anemia, osteoporosis, liver disease, intestinal cancer and malnutrition. It can also be inherited, and is actually more common to inherit than Crohn’s, Type 1 Diabetes and Cystic Fibrosis.
Genetic testing can be done if another family member has been diagnosed, otherwise, an antibody blood test with endoscopic biopsy will show whether or not a gluten sensitivity or Celiac exists.
The treatment is a gluten-free diet. Read labels and look for gluten-free, as it can be hidden in foods that appear to be gluten-free, but really aren’t.
There are over 300 different symptoms of Celiac disease, but the following are the most common.
- Abdominal bloating and pain
- Pale, foul-smelling or fatty stool
- Weight loss
- Delayed growth
- Short in stature
- Failure to thrive
- Dental enamel defects
- Irritability/behavior issues
- Abdominal pain and bloating, chronic diarrhea and/or constipation
- Bone or joint pain
- Bone loss/osteoporosis
- Missed periods in women
- Canker sores
- Itchy skin rash
What food items should you avoid? Read ingredient labels carefully. Steer clear of any foods containing:
- Wheat – Used in sauces, creams, cheeses and processed foods as a “thickener”.
- Barley – Sometimes a flavoring, but also used as a binding agent in soups, cereals, snack foods and even protein bars.
- Rye – A type of wheat, mostly used as a base for crackers, breads and whiskey.
- Triticale – A hybrid of wheat and rye.
The amount of gluten found in wheat has doubled in recent years, thanks to the creation and focus on crop hybrids. Gluten is also added as a filler and binding agent to many processed foods, including:
- salad dressing
- soy sauce
- tomato sauces
- vegetable cooking sprays
- ground spices
- artificial coffee creamer
- chewing gum
- brown rice syrup
- snack chips
- cold cuts
- fish sticks
- flavored teas
- bouillon cubes
- condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise
- hot dogs
- prepared rice mixes
- imitation seafood
You won’t find “gluten” on any of these food ingredient labels, but you will read confusing descriptions like:
- dextrin, malt or maltodextrin
- gelatinized starch
- hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)
- hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
- modified food starch
- monosodium glutamate (the infamous MSG)
- natural flavorings
- rice malt or rice syrup
- whey protein concentrate
- whey sodium caseinate
You can eat right and get a handle on your gluten allergy or sensitivity. Now that you know what to look for on labels to avoid gluten, instead of just eating “everything else”, it’s wise to think about the best foods to eat if you have Celiac. These foods will provide the precise comfort and the pizzazz your body needs to power through anything life throws its way. Good-for-you gluten-free foods:
- fresh beef, poultry, fish
- grains, seeds and starches like: buckwheat, corn, flax, potatoes, lentils, quinoa, rice, sweet potatoes and others.
These additional foods are also healthy, gluten-free and help to eliminate inflammation in the body: nuts, avocado, spinach, tart cherries, olive oil, orange veggies and fruits, pineapple, and turmeric, ginger, onions and garlic.
If you think you may have a gluten sensitivity or allergy, look at what you are eating and see what foods you can eliminate from your diet. Try some fresh and healthy, gluten-free foods for a week or two and see if some of your symptoms lessen. Remember that just because something is marked gluten-free does not mean it’s healthy. Do your research to determine the best foods and ingredients to put into your body.
Call us to schedule a consultation to determine what other lifestyle choices you can make
TODAY to improve the state of your body, your health and your life – naturally.
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Tustin, CA 92780