Before you consider to ride the gluten-free bandwagon and eliminate a nutrient you have been shoveling into your body, you should understand what gluten is, how it affects the body, and why certain people should take on a gluten free lifestyle.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is the hardest protein for your body to digest.
When flour is mixed with water, gluten forms a sticky cross-linked network of proteins, giving elastic properties to dough and allowing bread to rise when baked. Actually, the name gluten is derived from these glue-like properties.
Is Gluten Bad?
Gluten is primarily only harmful to those whose body rejects the protein. So for celiacs, gluten intolerant, and gluten sensitive individuals gluten should be avoided completely. But for the rest of us, gluten has minimal affects. But with 6-8% of Americans having some sort of gluten intolerance, in conjunction with the overwhelming growing number of diagnoses’ against it each day, more and more people are learning that their body is slowly rejecting it. Studies show that up to 40% of us are susceptible to developing celiac decease or gluten intolerance based on having the HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes.
So how do you know if you have a gluten intolerance or Celiac decease?
Gluten intolerance and Celiac disease are two of the most difficult diseases to diagnose.
Signs and symptoms of Celiac or gluten intolerance are: bloating, stomach pain, fatigue, diarrhea, pain in the bones and joints, and skin irritaion to name a few.
Given that there is no clear definition of gluten sensitivity, or a good way to diagnose it, the only true way of knowing is by eliminating gluten temporarily from your diet, then reintroducing it to see if you have symptoms.
Celiac Decease is on the Rise and Most are Unaware
Only 1% of the population are diagnosed Celiac, however 80% of them didn’t even know they had it. Celiac decease is the most under diagnosed decease in the world.
Celiac decease is a gastrointestinal auto- immune disorder in which the body attacks itself. The celia in ones small intestine cannot process gluten. Its toxic. The celia lines the intestines and when you body breaks down food, the nutrients in the food are absorbed in the celia. With Celiac decease the antibodies in your intestine think that gluten is harmful and therefore destroy it along with the celia lining. This kills off the celia and over time you will not be able to digest any nutrients because the lining is now destroyed. If not taken care of, this disease is extremely dangerous and will continually get worse and worse.
Gluten Sensitivity is Much More Common
You don’t have to be celiac to have adverse reactions to Gluten. Gluten intolerance is much more common than celiac disease and is an allergy that develops within your life. Gluten intolerance occurs when your body has an allergic reaction to gluten with very similar symptoms to a celiac. The difference is that your body treats it as an allergy and attacks the gluten but NOT the body tissues as well. So over time symptoms don’t worsen like a celiac.
There are also studies showing that gluten can cause inflammation in the intestine and a degenerated intestinal lining.
Gluten can be also be problematic for those with neurological disorders such as Schizophrenia, Autism, and Epilepsy.
Many people report getting unnatural cravings for wheat and there is some evidence of gluten having addictive opioid-like effects. However, this is definitely not proven and is mostly speculation at this point. Typically added sugar-like chemicals to glutenous foods aid in the addiction.
Should I Go Gluten Free?
At the end of the day, the only way to know if you should avoid gluten or not, is to remove it from your diet, then reintroduce it and see if you get symptoms. If you completely eliminate gluten for 30 days (no cheating), then eat a meal with gluten and experience adverse effects, then you probably have gluten sensitivity and should make a serious effort to avoid it.
Personally I look at it from a cautionary approach. If gluten can potentially cause harm, then why put myself at risk? I’ve tested myself and didn’t find any harmful reactions yet I still avoid it, just not completely. I believe in managing my consumption and limiting my usage so that I don’t develop any reactions because I recognize that your not born with decease, you typically adopt it, and although there is no clear reason how, I try not to allow myself to test the boundary.
Gluten Free Food Doesn’t Mean Healthy
Finding a gluten free food and calling it healthy is ridiculous! So many foods can be gluten free but have several unhealthy ingredients. Check the ingredients on the box before you purchase and be careful what you consider healthy because gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean its good for you.by firstname.lastname@example.org