Have you heard of going gluten-free?
Sure you have. It’s just about impossible to go out to eat or grocery shopping without seeing this term. It’s gained so much momentum over the past few years because society today is finding that they’re running into more and unexplainable health issues which many times leads back to nutrition. You’ve seen and heard the term “gluten-free” but what exactly does it mean? And what happens inside the body when we eat gluten?!
How Your Body Reacts to Gluten
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, & farro), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. It’s what helps give dough its elasticity, shape, and helps it to rise into a tasty loaf of bread. However, gluten proteins can be difficult to digest because they are highly resistant to the protease enzymes that break down proteins in your digestive tract.
During the digestion process, these gluten proteins are not being broken down into smaller, more easily used amino acids as your body would prefer; they’re being absorbed as larger, partially digested peptides (rather than small individual amino acids). Additionally, gluten proteins react with an enzyme called transglutaminase that, in Celiac patients only, triggers an autoimmune response, due to a gene mutation in these patients.
Medical Conditions Requiring a Gluten-Free Diet
Some find that eating foods with gluten can cause some bodily discomfort and/or health issues when ingested. These people may come to realize that they have a gluten sensitivity and possibly even have Celiac’s disease. Celiac’s disease affects about 1% of the population. It is an inherited autoimmune disease where when gluten has been ingested it causes an inflammatory response and this can cause damage especially to the lining of the small intestines. When the small intestines continue to take on long-term damage, it makes it difficult for your body to absorb necessary nutrients in turn damaging overall health. This can even lead to more detrimental health issues and other autoimmune disorders. Unfortunately, there is no current cure for this disease, but a gluten-free diet helps those with the disease and those with sensitivities as well.
The difference between Celiac’s Disease (complete intolerance) & Non-celiac gluten sensitivity:
- Celiac’s Disease – An autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system malfunctions and attacks the body’s own tissues and organs.
- Non-celiac gluten sensitivity – When your blood test for celiac disease comes back negative, but you have similar symptoms to celiac disease. This will not cause long-term damage.
Common Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity
- Constipation or Diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and/or vomiting
- Joint pain
- Stomach Ache
- Brain Fog
- Products containing wheat- such as bread
- Processed lunch meats
- Oats (oats themselves do not contain gluten but they are often process in a facility that produces gluten-containing grains and there may be cross contamination)
- Barley malt & malt vinegar
- Meat and vegetable broth
- Seasoning and spice mixes
- Soy sauce
- Baked goods
- Flour tortillas
- Brown rice
- Coconut or almond flour
- Corn or potato products
- Balsamic, red wine, apple cider vinegar
- Certified gluten-free broth
- Noodles made from beans or lentils
- Gluten-free baked goods, crackers, cereals, etc.
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Lean, non-processed meats, fish, and poultry
Let’s start transforming your diet
Don’t worry! You can still eat the foods you love while following a gluten-free diet. Many grocery stores have a special section for gluten-free items which makes the condition much more manageable. Being allergic to gluten may have been a struggle in the past, but now it’s become a simple lifestyle change. Many (even if not highly allergic) choose to go gluten-free just to reap the benefits of weight loss, improved gastrointestinal health, improved athletic performance, and more. Have you tried going gluten-free? Share your experience on our social pages!