If Oprah Winfrey is doing it, there must be something to this fad. But, is gluten-free dieting just a fad, or is it really an issue in our food products? We have to start by defining what gluten sensitivity is versus celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged when a person with the disease eats a gluten product. This hampers absorption of nutrients and leads to malnutrition along with symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. Now, if you are like me you are asking, “What is gluten?” Gluten is a protein present in wheat flour, which is widely used in commercial goods. It is also found in flour made from barley, rye, and spelt. There are an estimated 3 million Americans diagnosed with celiac disease. The rates are doubling every 20 years in Western countries. The prevailing theory is that our guts have not been taught to deal with gluten as antigens and our immune systems start to react to these proteins as free radicals (Thanks Joe). The first step, I believe is to get tested for celiac disease by your doctor if you know that you react badly to products like cookies, cakes, pastries and breads. Keeping a food/symptom diary can really help determine this. If your celiac tests are negative, you could still have an intolerance to gluten that causes milder symptoms such as achy joints, headaches, chronic fatigue, skin disorders, mood changes and more. There are tests available to check for gluten intolerance that are very simple. These blood tests can help determine if you are having some intolerances to gluten or any other food additive. I should have this blood test available to all AngelaMD.com followers in the next month. Stay tuned for more on that!
Here is a great website with tons of great gluten-free recipes! http://glutenfreefix.com/