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  • TO EAT GLUTEN or NOT TO EAT GLUTEN?

    There is no denying that we as a country are sicker than ever. It’s not like our “genes” have changed but boy has the modern Western diet changed. The fact is, the human body has not evolved to consume such sugary substances, refined high-calorie carbohydrates, processed foods, etc. We certainly don’t help ourselves by consuming “these” foods. Food is supposed to make us feel good and help us be healthy, not make us sick.

    Research and studies about the foods we eat and how they affect our body are being done everyday. Media then takes these “findings” and spins it in every direction to make us think “this way” of eating is the best way or “that way” is the worst way. However they spin it, fad diets appear. We all know a new “diet” comes out every day. They have been around for awhile and they certainly are not going anywhere so I am going to help clear up the newest ways of eating - gluten-free!

    Going gluten-free has many people believing it’s the best way to eat for weight loss, improve digestion, provide more energy, etc. The market for gluten-free products is exploding yet we have been eating wheat, and the gluten in it, for at least ten thousand years. Why all of a sudden does gluten seem evil? Is going gluten free for me? All of these questions are answered below.

    WHAT THE HECK IS GLUTEN ANYWAY?

    It is a general name for proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and other crossbreeds. Gluten is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. It helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. It actually is one of the most heavily consumed proteins on earth. When people think “gluten” they typically just think of breads. Gluten can be found in many other everyday foods and drinks (unless of course if they are labeled “gluten-free”) such as beer, salad dressing, pasta, cakes/pies, soy sauce, french fries, certain soups, etc.

    WHY NOW DOES GLUTEN SEEM SO THREATENING?

    Gluten is only “threatening” to those that are “gluten-intolerant.” In fact, going gluten-free is essential for these people. Having an intolerance to gluten means your body produces an abnormal immune response when it breaks down gluten from wheat and related grains during digestion. The most well-known form is Celiac Disease where the body sees gluten as a predator. When ingested, the immune system reacts by attacking the small intestine (where gluten is digested) and generating inflammation that prevents people from absorbing important nutrients. This causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss and fatigue. When left untreated, Celiac Disease can lead to other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, infertility and neurological conditions. A test can be done through your doctor to see if you have Celiac Disease.

    You can also have wheat allergies and/or gluten sensitivities. Symptoms range from classic food allergy markers such as skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal reactions to diarrhea, headache, fatigue, joint pain etc.

    ---> The crazy thing is the number of people eating a gluten-free diet far surpasses the number of people suffering from celiac disease.

    DOES THE GLUTEN-FREE DIET BENEFIT EVERYONE?

    Yes and no.

    Yes, because those that go gluten-free stop eating the extra “crap” which then means you are not eating as much fat/calories which obviously leads to feeling better, weight loss, more energy, better sleep, the list goes on…. If going gluten-free means you eat better - then go for it.

    No, because now that you can find almost everything “gluten-free” people just assume it’s healthier. Going gluten-free will NOT help you if you still choose to eat more calories than you need - even if they are gluten-free. Gluten-free pizza….it’s still pizza. Eating a box of gluten-free cookies/crackers/etc…...is still a box full of calories. Many of the gluten-free products have added fat and sugar to make them taste as similar as possible to their gluten-containing counterparts. Unless you are careful, the gluten-free diet are often nutrient-deficient, lacking vitamins, minerals and fiber. Gluten itself doesn’t offer special nutritional benefits BUT many of the whole grains that contain gluten do. They are rich in an array of vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron, as well as fiber.

    SHOULD YOU GO GLUTEN-FREE?

    The best way to find out if you have issues with gluten is to do an elimination diet. This means you would not consume gluten for a month and then reintroduce it. Since gluten is a very large protein the longer you can eliminate it from your diet before reintroducing it, the better. If you feel significantly better off of gluten or feel worse when you reintroduce it, then gluten is likely a problem. In order to get accurate results from this testing method you must eliminate 100% of the gluten from your diet. Even trace amounts of gluten from cross contamination or medications or supplements can be enough to cause an immune reaction in your body.

    I hope this will help you in decide to “gluten or not to gluten.” I personally had to go gluten-free when I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. So I have some inside knowledge and am here to help answer any questions you may have.

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