Gluten has garnered a lot of attention over the last few decades. While the impact of Gluten on the human body can be quite harmful, the attention given to this topic has certainly been elevated by the internet and social media. I’m not saying the information should be discounted, to the contrary, the attention has probably helped millions who have experienced the negative effects of gluten unknowingly. However, with all good things, there’s always another perspective. As Gluten intolerance has become so publicized and even advertised by the many Gluten free food options, many people may be avoiding gluten containing foods un-necessarily.
Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found primarily in wheats and grains such as rye and barley. It can be extracted from these sources and concentrated so it can be added in very small amounts as a protein additive to other foods. There are also applications where it is used as a binder to help certain foods hold a desired shape, and it’s even found in some cosmetics.
Foods commonly associated with Gluten are bread, pizza, cakes, cookies, pasta, beer, cereals, snack foods that are seasoned, etc. The Mayo Clinic gives has a great summary where its commonly found and how to eat a Gluten Free Diet.
When one hears about Gluten issues, there is a tendency to think that Celiac disease and Gluten intolerance are the same thing. While they manifest with similar symptoms, (Diarrhea, Bloating and Gas, Stomach Cramps, Constipation and in some cases nausea and vomiting) they do differ in terms of severity.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can cause permanent damage to the lining of the small intestine, resulting in the inability to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream if Gluten intake is continued.
Gluten intolerance, while presenting with similar symptoms as Celiac, is simply a sensitivity to the protein, there is usually no long-term damage, and symptoms will abate by stopping or reducing your Gluten intake.
HOW DO YOU DETERMINE IF YOU HAVE A GLUTEN ISSUE?
According to NYU Langone, there is no one definitive test to diagnose Celiac or Gluten intolerance. However, if you are experiencing the symptoms described above and you are not already on a gluten free diet, then you should absolutely see your health care professional immediately. There are a series of diagnostic tests that can be run, along with some recommended actions from your Doctor to help diagnose any potential disease or intolerance.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO, or NOT DO?
First, if you are having the symptoms described above frequently or even occasionally, start taking notes of what you are eating. If your diet is weighted towards more carbohydrates and the timing of the symptoms correlate with eating, then a Gluten intolerance could be the issue.
A FEW TIPS TO HELP MANAGE GLUTEN INTOLERANCE
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, I personally have become a fan of Balance of Nature.
- Read food labels carefully and stay away from ingredients containing gluten.
- Limit or eliminate baked foods (cookies, cakes, pies)
- Eliminate bread and pastas (products containing wheat, rye and barley)
- Stay away from processed foods such as lunch meats, or fake structured meats, and salad dressings.
- Eat more whole grains – rice, white rice, beans, seeds and nuts.
- Increase your protein intake, with fresh meats, fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy products.
I’m not a dietician or health care professional, however, I experience many of these symptoms occasionally. This article is a summary of my personal research based from credible sources, all of which I’ve linked to throughout the article.
My recommendation or strong opinion is very simple:
SEE YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL IMMEDIATELY IF YOU FREQUENTLY OR EVEN OCCASIONALLY EXPERIENCE THE SYMPTOMS DESCRIBED IN THIS ARTICLE.