The “What” on Gluten

What on Gluten

When you tell people you don’t eat bread, things get weird.

They get even weirder if you mention you don’t eat conventional pasta, crackers, cookies, cereal, pizza, or things with flour.

In fact, 3 years ago, I remember the first time that a friend told me she wasn’t eating gluten and the horrific way I reacted.

(SHOCK) “Seriously? Why? How do you get enough fiber? What do you eat for breakfast? What in the world do you eat AT ALL?”

I was almost… offended. It was as if someone told me that someone had died!

“Isn’t gluten-free a fad?”medium_3115778325

“But the Bible says to eat your daily bread. How can it be bad?”

These are all AMAZING questions and the same ones that I had.

Sure enough, as time went on and my absolute passion for learning all things nutrition took over, I found myself on that very same path…

…Not eating bread or gluten, and now dealing with the horror on people’s faces when I bear the bad news.

The funny thing is, my husband and I found ourselves on this path because he pretty much had to cut out gluten for health reasons, and I wanted to for health reasons.

But here’s the deal.

We’re all in our own places when it comes to food. It’s extremely personal and brings emotional, mental, and physical ties that can run DEEP. As I wrote in my Freshly Pressed article, The Double-Edged Sword of Food, ironically, the choices we make about food have the power to both connect us and divide us.

Wherever we are all on the “change spectrum” of food, though, embracing the truth about what IS or ISN’T good for us is the first step.

This quick post is intended to help you with understanding the WHAT on gluten, a very controversial and widespread topic in the world of food.

The next will dive into the research of WHY going gluten-free may be best for you and/or your family. The final post will discuss the HOW of eating sans gluten {should you decide to do so}.

The “What” on Gluten

So, what IS this thing called “gluten?”

Gluten is the main structural protein complex in wheat and grain. It exists in grains like wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, bulgur, and couscous.

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Besides these grains, foods that include gluten are bread, baked goods, cookies, pasta, cereals andnoodles.

Yikes, right? This pretty much sums up the Standard American Diet (SAD)!

Hidden sources of gluten to watch out for include soy sauce, dressings, yogurt, beer, and processed foods. Watch out when eating out, too, because scrambled eggs, French Fries, lipstick and soups may have gluten as well.

What are the main reactions and symptoms of eating gluten?

A) Autoimmune

One of the most common reactions is an autoimmune digestive disease triggered by gluten, known as Celiac Disease (CD). It affects 1% of the U.S. population, causes damage to the inner small intestine, and affects the ability to absorb nutrients. Symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, malnutrition, osteoporosis, and cancer.

B) Wheat Allergy

Triggered by eating wheat proteins and/or other grains, this autoimmune reaction affects less than 1% of children and some adults after exercise, with symptoms of hives, nasal congestion, nausea, and anaphylaxis.

C) Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten sensitivity is the third type of reaction, and is caused by elevated levels of antibodies triggered by gluten. It’s tough to test for, and affects about 6% of the U.S. population with another 20 million that may be affected without knowing it.

Symptoms range from stomach issues, headaches, and balance problems to many others, as summarized in the chart below from the Wall Street Journal.

OB-NA555_GRAIN0_NS_20110314203603

Finally, beyond these symptoms, what are other common reactions related to gluten sensitivity?

Many other symptoms related to gluten sensitivity include:

  • IBS-like stomach problems
  • Headaches
  • Behavioral changes
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Abdominal pain/ diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic fatigue / brain fog
  • Numbness and depression
  • Atopic dermatitis / eczema / rash

For more on the research of WHY you and/or your family may want to reconsider eating gluten in your everyday diet, stay tuned for my next post!!

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Your turn! I’d love to know your opinion on the “gluten controversy?!”

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This post was shared on Party Wave Wednesday.

photo credit: Claudio.Ar via photopin cc

photo credit: elana’s pantry via photopin cc

photo credit: Whatsername? via photopin cc

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10 responses on “The “What” on Gluten

  1. I’m already gluten free and feel great. I did it for no other reason than that. I used to have really bad gas and it’s gone, bloating is gone. I feel like I’ve lost a bunch of weight simply because my gut has deflated.

    • Great for you, Jessica! It really does help with bloat! And I’m sure your gut is just as happy INSIDE as it is outside without it. :)

  2. Jules, sounds scary! I cant imagine myself not eating bread and pasta!! But I do probably consume too much. I believe almost anything in moderation is Ok, provided you dont have celiacs, but its a slippery slope. Few people know when enough is enough. We push the envelope.

    • :) It does sound scary, right? It’s all in the baby steps…and realizing that you can choose to eat these kinds of foods that really don’t provide you with much nutrients besides a blood sugar spike; or you can opt for a more nutrient dense substitute. Mashed cauliflower for potatoes, spaghetti squash instead of pasta, and gluten-free bread are some of our favorite substitutes!

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