CELIAC DISEASE!!! DON'T EAT GLUTEN! GLUTEN FREE! So what the %$&$ is GLUTEN anyway?! And is cutting it entirely out of your diet something you NEED to do?! Well let's break it all down...
WHAT THE %$&$ IS GLUTEN!?!?!?: Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat (including spelt, kamut, farro and bulgur) and grains such as barley and rye. Gluten is not just limited to wheat products, as it can be found an array of products such as chocolate, deli meats, soy sauce, and many more. Used as a thickener, gluten can also be found in soups, dressings or even as a flavor enhancer in coffee, dairy products and liquors. Those with celiac disease face all sorts of gnarly symptoms even if consuming just a SUPER SMALL amount. Some of these symptoms can range anywhere from abdominal bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, to iron deficiency anemia or even musculoskeletal problems and seizures. The list goes on. But so far - not that rad, right?
WHAT HAPPENS!?: Here's the deal... Gluten intolerance is an autoimmune disease. People with Celiac disease (approximately 1 in 133 in the US,) who consume gluten begin to form antibodies that attack the intestinal lining (known as villi.) Villi help absorb all of the good stuff into the body so if someone with celiac disease takes in gluten, inflammation and damage to the villi can occur. "Great, WTF does that mean, Lisa?" OK - that means: nutrients which are normally absorbed in this area by healthy villi are no longer absorbed, since this area is now damaged. The result: malnourishment, extensive weight loss, depression bla bla bla.... It just ain't good.
If you are a TRUE celiac - you may have a reaction from even the littlest amount of gluten and need to become super aware and alert of any and all food products you are throwing into your bod. But some, LIKE ME, are not necessarily allergic to gluten - but sensitive to this mysterious protein.
GLUTEN SENSITIVITY: With such a major increase of gluten into our diets over the last several decades, due to a huge increase in consumption of highly refined wheat flour, millions of people are beginning to feel the affects - and not in a good way. While these individuals may test NEGATIVE for gluten INTOLERANCE, they may just be: gluten SENSITIVE. Now, while you can not test for gluten sensitivity, many patients will show symptoms of Celiac disease and test negative. So just as I did, these patients will opt to slowly cut gluten out of their diet then trial and error some products back in to see what affects their body and in what way. While many patients have shown relief from their symptoms from gluten elimination, "sensitivity" has still not been declared an actual medical condition. (Though trust me - my stomach will tell you IT IS.)
If you have tested negative for Celiac disease and have further questions about Gluten sensitivity... check out this way helpful article: GLUTEN SENSITIVITY.
If you feel you may have Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or have further questions - call your doctor! And ASK QUESTIONS! Start a food journal and note what does and doesn't affect you after meals. Try to provide your doctor with as much information as possible!
***And remember: just because a food is gluten-free, does not make it healthy. These entire bags - are gluten-free... JUST READ YOUR LABELS!