Gluten has recently popped up in the media. The notorious Dr. Oz has covered it and celebrities are touting the benefits of removing gluten from the diet. Gluten has been made to be the villain, but what do you actually know about gluten?
Crazy information, like this ridiculous scene from This is the End, further confuse people.
So, what exactly is gluten? Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten can also be found in bulgur, semolina, durum, spelt, triticale, graham flour, couscous, beer/ale/lager and malt. It is also found in other foods due to gluten being an ingredient in additives in foods such as: marinades, commercially prepared drinks, some non-dairy creamers, blue cheese, processed deli meats, thickening agents, imitation seafood and seasoning.
So, why are people eliminating gluten from their diets? Celiac disease is a disease that requires people to remove gluten from their diet. However, widespread misinformation has led to the average person going gluten-free due to weight loss and other “miraculous” benefits.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects an estimated 1 out of every 100 people. People with celiac disease have an immune response when they consume gluten that attacks their intestine and eventually leads to malabsorption of nutrients. Being diagnosed with celiac disease is not a simple process. The first step involves testing for celiac disease antibodies in the blood. Diagnosis can only be confirmed through a biopsy of the small intestine.
Celiac disease is a very serious diagnosis. Symptoms in adults can include: fatigue, unexplained iron deficiency, bone or join pain, arthritis, depression, seizures, migraines, infertility, and dermatitis.
Some people have gluten sensitivity. These people have the symptoms of celiac disease but do not have the antibodies in their blood and their biopsy was negative. Gluten sensitivity is still a diagnosable condition and people should not self-diagnose. If you truly feel you have an issue with gluten, see a doctor to know for sure.
The reason healthy people lose weight on a gluten-free diet is not because gluten makes you fat. People are lose weight because they are eliminating a whole lot of foods from their diet. People on gluten-free diets tend to have diets that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates, protein, iron, folate, niacin, B12, calcium phosphorus, and zinc. People on a gluten-free diet are highly recommended to take a multivitamin to prevent nutrient deficiencies. So, this is not a diet to take lightly. It takes hard work, dedication and sacrifice to truly follow a gluten-free diet. And I do not recommend anyone follow this diet unless they have a medical need. Besides, who would choose to do something to their bodies that puts them are higher risk of being malnourished?For more information on celiac disease, visit http://celiac.org/