Is gluten just another buzz word?

Published 3:12 pm Thursday, October 8, 2015

As a lifestyle expert, I pay close attention to trends, and gluten is one topic gaining increasing popularity. And, it’s not just a buzzword. Gluten is a major concern for many. But, what exactly is gluten, and how do you know if you are gluten sensitive or, the worst case scenario, have celiac disease?

What is gluten and should I be concerned?

Gluten is a protein found in processed wheat, barley, rye and some other grains.  Gluten helps dough rise and gives it its elasticity. It is also a known source of protein. But for many, it is a protein they cannot digest (or break down properly).  I’m one of those individuals. For persons with celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity, when gluten is ingested, an autoimmune response is triggered in the small intestines, causing damage to its lining. Eventually, the response causes inflammation, which in turn, leads to mal-absorption of nutrients. There is no cure for celiac disease, but eating a strict gluten-free diet will aid in healing the intestinal lining and prevent further inflammation.

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What are the signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance or celiac disease?

Bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort/pain, muscular and or joint pain are the most commonly reported symptoms. But in other cases, such as mine, it actually has the ability to affect all the systems in the body from neurological to skin all of these I experienced myself, prior to adopting a gluten-free diet.

Should parents be concerned?

Is your child hyper-active, having trouble concentrating or focusing, restless, irritable or having trouble sleeping?  These are just some recognizable symptoms that you may come across outside of the symptoms listed above. It seems as though (dependent upon the person/child), gluten hides or manifests itself in different ways, such as the muscles and joints, neurological system, etc. making a diagnosis challenging.

So before you put your child or yourself on anxiety drugs, antidepressants or medications for fibromyalgia or whatever it is that ails you, think twice.  Get tested for gluten sensitivity or celiac disease first. The body sends messages; listen to the signals. If needed, try a lifestyle change by going gluten-free.

Try these non-gluten foods

  • — Quinoa
  • — Millet
  • — Rice
  • — Non-gluten oats
  • — Amaranth
  • — Buckwheat
  • — Teff
  • — Tapioca