Is the Gluten Free Movement a Fad or Should I Be Concerned?
It’s seems like everywhere you turn these days the new buzz in the health and fitness industry is eating a diet that’s gluten free. What does that mean and should you be concerned? Let’s start with exactly what gluten is. Gluten is a large water soluble protein that creates the elasticity in dough. You will find it in grains such as oats, barley, rye, and wheat. In addition to the grains that are listed it may also be an additive to many other food products which can include candy.
There are two distinctions we need to clarify when it comes to gluten. Some people may be gluten intolerant and others may have something called Celiac Disease. Let’s take a look at what happens with a person who has gluten intolerance and then we will examine someone with Celiac Disease.
When a person with a gluten intolerance eats or drinks something with gluten, the body initiates a type of allergic reaction which usually results in some form of inflammation. Some of the symptoms may include joint pain, fatigue, bloating, diarrhea, and acid reflux. One important thing to be aware of is that some people with a gluten intolerance may be asymptomatic for many years of their life, and may not have had an issue eating foods with gluten until they’re in their 30’s or 40’s.
As we look at someone with Celiac Disease they are in a more serious position. Celiac Disease causes intestinal atrophy which can decrease the area for nutrient absorption. Many times this goes unnoticed until the person becomes malnourished and experiences frequent stomach pain, bloating, or diarrhea. As with someone who has a gluten intolerance, the symptoms are very similar but realize they are two separate conditions.
So if you have experienced some of these symptoms do you have a gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease? Maybe, but here is a simple non-invasive test that you can perform on yourself to give you a better answer.
It’s very simple, just stop consuming gluten for 4-6 weeks and see how you feel. If you reintroduce gluten back into your diet after the 4-6 weeks and you face some of the same irritating conditions you faced previously then you may have an issue with gluten. Consult your physician about this and inform him/her of the gluten free nutrition plan you have followed to experiment if you have an issue with gluten. He/she can then recommend further testing.
To learn more about gluten free options see Leisan, our resident Nutritionist for a personalized nutrition consultation when you are with us.