Gluten free diets are becoming very common. But what a lot of people don’t know is that eliminating gluten from your diet will only benefit those who have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Celebrities have promoted gluten-free diets as the new age health trend. Eliminate gluten to purify and cleanse your body! Boost your energy and lose weight by eating gluten-free foods!
Gluten: What is it?
What exactly is gluten? Gluten is a type of protein found in grains and cereals like wheat, barley and rye. It is the component of bread dough that gives it the elastic texture. Things such as chicken broth or bouillon, lunch meats, and certain processed foods contain gluten. People with Celiac Disease have to choose their food very carefully.
Celiac Disease is an immune disorder where the body detects gluten as an allergen. It attacks gluten as it would an intruder and in doing so can damage certain tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. Most often the immune system overreacts and damages the small intestines. The more gluten consumed, the more damage inflicted. The small intestines job is to absorb the majority of our nutrients. Those with gluten allergies often have poor nutrient absorption which can lead to vitamin deficiencies or malnutrition. Gluten allergy is highly genetic and researchers have narrowed it down to two main genes. Almost all of those with Celiac Disease will be found to have a copy of one or more of the genes.
Manifestations of Celiac Disease
There are many problems associated with undetected and untreated gluten allergy. When we are allergic to gluten our bodies attack and destroy our small intestinal tissue. Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and calcium have a hard time being absorbed. Long term deficiency of calcium and/or vitamin D has been associated with osteoporosis. Folic acid is another vitamin that can become deficient in those with Celiac Disease. If left undiagnosed and treated, certain cancers such as esophageal or intestinal tumors can result.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Gluten sensitivity is a fairly new term that has come up shortly after an increase in awareness of Celiac Disease. Gluten sensitivity can be diagnosed by symptoms alone. If one has symptoms that overlap with irritable bowel syndrome and Celiac Disease but has a negative immune sensitivity test, a regular intestinal biopsy and normal endoscopy then the chances are good that you may be sensitive to gluten. The only way of finding out is to eliminate all sources of gluten. If the symptoms get better or subside then you have a sensitivity to gluten.
Going Gluten Free
Are there any benefits in going gluten free? For those who have certain symptoms of irritable bowel and Celiac Disease there is a huge benefit in going gluten free. However, for those who are looking for the newest diet fad or weight loss plan, I’d keep looking. Gluten is a protein. Not a fat, not a carbohydrate, a protein. It does not contain a considerable amount of nutrients and just happens to exist in grains that contain a whole lot of fibre. Completely eliminating gluten would force you to start purchasing a lot more refined grains that lack nutrients and fibre. Fibre is known to decrease the risk of instestinal polyps and even colon cancer. I do understand that avoiding gluten may push people to choose less carbohydrate intensive foods. In that sense, avoiding large amounts of carbohydrates isn’t a new diet at all. It’s been the common theme for almost 90% of diets out there. Eat less carbs and loose weight. I really don’t see a benefit in eliminating gluten in those who are otherwise healthy.
Would You Go Gluten Free?
Me personally would only go gluten-free if I had a positive test for Celiac Disease. I have recently submitted my saliva for a genetic analysis. It just so happens that 23andMe tests for the most common genes associated with Celiac Disease. I have always had stomach problems when I was a child. Diarrhea, cramping, bloating… you name it, I had it. However, since I’m an adult, diarrhea is no longer a problem. Bloating, fatigue, lassitude and mood changes have all been a problem. I’m really interested in finding out if I test positive for the Celiac genes. If I do test positive for the genes I’ll follow-up with my family doctor. Celiac disease is a difficult one to manage. It’s also one that can be tedious and expensive. One of my favourite pass-times, eating out, could turn into a gastronomic nightmare.