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What is this Gluten-Free Craze all About?

Gluten Free Hype

Gluten Free Hype

Everywhere you look, someone or something is touting the benefits of going gluten-free. You might be wondering if you should be eliminating gluten or cutting back on it, or even what the heck gluten is. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, spelt, barley and rye. Some people are allergic to gluten and have severe reactions when it is ingested. This is known as celiac disease. Others are sensitive to gluten and have more mild reactions like headaches, belly bloat, brain fog or skin issues. There has been a dramatic increase within the last 50 years of people being diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerances. The big question is: Why is this happening now when humans have been eating wheat for thousands of years? Although the answer to this question is not known, there are many speculations. One thought is that the primary wheat produced today is a very different variation than before. The wheat we eat now is said to contain a different type of gluten and 50 times more of it than the wheat of our ancestors. The standard American diet is also more carbohydrate-heavy than it ever was in years past. With all of these factors, many people’s bodies can’t help but have negative side effects. While there is a blood test that can determine if you have celiac disease, determining if you have a gluten intolerance requires a different approach. The best way to do this is to remove gluten from your diet for at least 7 days. Then reintroduce it and listen to what your body is telling you. If you experience digestion issues, headaches, decreased energy, skin issues, moodiness/depression, or any other symptom that results in you not thriving, there is a good chance you have a gluten intolerance. In this case, the best option is not to simply remove wheat products from your diet and add in gluten-free labeled products to take their place. Instead, replacing gluten products with whole foods, naturally high in vitamins and minerals, is optimal. There are many whole grains such as quinoa (stay tuned for next week’s Spotlight On Quinoa article), millet, buckwheat and amaranth that can fill the gap in your diet that pasta or bread once held. Although making these changes might sound overwhelming if you have a lot of gluten products in your diet, try substituting one item at a time. If you enjoy a lot of pasta, start using brown rice instead. If you eat waffles in the morning, try making yourself oatmeal instead. One small change at a time is the best way to permanently sustain a healthier lifestyle.

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