Do you suffer from headaches, anxiety or depression but don’t know why? You may be suffering from sensitivity to gluten.
Dictionary.com defines gluten as “The tough, viscid, nitrogenous substance remaining when the flour of wheat or other grain is washed to remove the starch. A protein consisting of a mixture of glutelin and gliadin, present in cereal grains, especially wheat.”
To put it simply, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye that gives baked goods their chewiness. Gluten is commonly found or added in many delicious foods including hamburgers, pizza, beer and pancakes.
Why Is Gluten A Problem For Some…
A person diagnosed with celiac disease (CD) cannot tolerate gluten. Those with celiac disease typically suffer a great deal of gastrointestinal distress when they eat large amounts of gluten. According to the National Institutes of Health statistics approximately 1% of the population has celiac disease.
What We Didn’t Know Was Hurting Us…
As early as the first century A.D. a Greek physician named Aretaeus of Capadocia described a number of problems and symptoms his patients were suffering, all of which we now attribute to celiac disease. It wasn’t until the 1950s however that Dutch pediatrician Dr. Willem Dicke proved that gluten was the problem. (Source)
Why Is It Getting Worse? My Grandma Never Heard Of It!…
While celiac disease was officially given a title in the 1950’s – it still was not widely publicised nor was it widely diagnosed until years later. In fact, it hasn’t been until the last few years that additional research has proven that far more people suffer from gluten-related problems than anyone ever realised.
Recently, a lesser form of intolerance, labeled “gluten sensitivity” or “gluten intolerance” has been defined which seems to affect a far greater number of individuals.
It is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure as there is no definitive diagnostic test to determine intolerance but it is currently estimated that between 5-7% of people actually suffer a certain level of intolerance to gluten.
Additional Gluten-Related Problems…
Gastrointestinal problems are not the only symptoms that may affect you if you have CD or are gluten sensitive. In fact, gluten intolerance can affect nearly every tissue in your body including the brain, skin, liver, muscles…etc. Other ailments that have been linked to gluten sensitivity include:
Type 1 diabetes
Because the range of ailments can be so broad and so non-specific you may suffer your whole life without your doctor ever suspecting that gluten may be the cause.
What Foods Are The Worst Culprits?…
According to the Mayo Clinic, it is important to avoid all food and drink containing:
Malt, malt flavoring & malt vinegar – which is all actually made from barley
Therefore, unless the item is labeled ‘gluten-free’ anyone with CD or gluten intolerance should avoid:
Processed lunch meats
Seasoned rice mixes
Seasoned snack foods
Vegetables in sauce
The list can go on and on….something that can be completely discouraging for food lovers and completely stressful for dieters.
Simple Steps To Avoid It…
Stay Positive: Rather than focusing on what you can’t have – focus on what you can eat!
Fresh Produce: Focusing on organic and whole foods provides the easiest way to build a gluten-free menu. Fresh fruits and vegetables are gluten-free so stock up!
Fresh Meat: The easiest way to avoid gluten is to stick to unprocessed foods. Head to the meat department to check out the fresh meat, poultry and fish – all of these are preservative and gluten free.
Get Creative: Focusing on what you like, start playing around with new recipes in the kitchen. Be sure to stock-pile your shelves with gluten-free cookbooks and consider taking a gluten-free class or cooking seminar.
Eat Out: More and more restaurants are beginning to offer a gluten-free menu. Check the following website to search restaurants in your area: Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program.
Gluten-Free Product Labels: As awareness of CD and gluten intolerance is on the rise, so is the demand for gluten-free products. According to a report by Packaged Stats, the gluten-free industry has risen to a whopping $4.4 billion a year – & this number is rising. Start checking labels to find out which foods are labeled ‘gluten-free’. Some grocery stores even have a special gluten-free section.
Gluten-Free Smartphone App: Thanks to the power of modern day technology there are now apps that can help guide you to make healthy & gluten-free choices. Check out the latest Gluten-Free iPhone Apps to see which you like the best.
Gluten-Free For Weight Loss…
Thanks to celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow & Victoria Beckham boasting a gluten-free diet, throngs of consumers have begun to load their carts with gluten-free products thinking it to be the latest slim-down-quick weight loss secret.
The fact is though, if you are not careful, gluten-free products could sabotage your weight loss goals instead of helping them!
According to U.S. News and World Report a gluten-free diet can lead to weight loss due to the fact that it encourages dieters to avoid high-calorie refined carbohydrates. On the other hand – because this protein has been eliminated from gluten-free products on the shelves, some of those products add additional saturated fat, cholesterol & sugar in order to improve the taste – Not good!
The Bottom Weight-Loss Line…
As with any diet, remember there is no quick-fix. You still have to watch your calories, fat, sugar intake & combine exercise in a way that is sustainable.
You can however, always benefit from increasing your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables & lean meats however so take these gluten-free menu tips to heart whether you do or do not have a gluten sensitivity.
How To Determine If You Are Gluten-Sensitive…
If you have suffered any of the problems listed above with no discernable cause, it is suggested that you try a gluten-free menu for 30 full days and see if the symptoms subside.
Because there is no definitive test for gluten-intolerance this trial should help you determine if your body is suffering affects from gluten or not.
If your problems decrease or are eliminated by the end of the month, you know that gluten-free is the way to go from now on!
To Your Best Health
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