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Gluten Intolerance: What is it?

by ADMIN on JUNE 29, 2011

I have several friends who are gluten intolerant. Chances are – you may know a few as well!

Gluten intolerance is becoming more wide-spread not only in diagnosis, but also as a ‘diet’. Many people are starting to follow gluten free eating patterns to see if it helps with their energy, mood, and over-all health and well-being.

But what exactly is gluten?

Interestingly enough, gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, barley, rye, and anything made with these grains.

For some individuals, this protein may trigger an allergy-type of reaction which damages the small intestines and causes malabsorption (poor absorption) of nutrients.

Some people are only gluten intolerant, meaning their body doesn’t react as strongly as someone with Celiac Disease. CD is a genetic disorder that requires strict exclusion of gluten; even cross-contamination could cause a severe reaction.

All is not lost if you are diagnosed with gluten intolerance, there are still plenty of grains that won’t cause a reaction. These include: corn, rice, soy, potato, tapioca, beans, quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat, millet, arrowroot, amaranth, flax, nut flours, and oats (in moderation if they’re not contaminated). People with very severe CD may not be able to tolerate oats.

It’s difficult going totally gluten-free because there are hidden ingredients in many processed foods. That’s why staying with minimally processed, whole foods is the best way to eat for this diet pattern.

But beware; many of the foods that touted as gluten-free are also ‘nutrient-free’.

For example, many of the cereal bars are made with puffed rice and juice concentrates – which is really just sugar on sugar.

So if you’re going gluten-free to try to simply ‘get healthier’ and not because you have to, I’d recommend continuing to eat wheat products but simply eating foods closer to their natural form. This way you’re cutting out many of the processed foods that can cause gastrointestinal (stomach!) distress and focusing on eating the foods that are naturally nutrient-packed. Be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables as well!

You’ll be doing your body a favor by providing it foods for wonderful, optimal health.


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