Living Gluten Free
You may have heard and read a lot about gluten free products, in fact you may even consume them yourself in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. But do you really know the science behind gluten and what living gluten free is really about? We took a deeper look into what it means to be gluten free and who can benefit from this diet choice.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. When you think of gluten, you might first think of your friend whose core personality trait is being gluten-free. You’ll obviously think of gluttonous foods such as muffins, cookies, bread, and crackers. But, gluten also lurks in a variety of foods and drinks under deceptive names such as “artificial flavors” or “natural flavors.” It’s even found in some hard seltzers, liquor, and most beers.
Those with Celiac disease have to pay extra close attention to nutrition labels to prevent getting “gluten-ed” and taking on a plethora of undesirable side effects. Celiac disease is not an allergy to gluten, rather it is a serious illness where the body's immune system will attack itself if gluten is consumed.
The Harvard Medical Journal shares that even “just 50 milligrams of the protein—about the amount in one small crouton—is enough to cause trouble. In people with celiac disease, gluten in the bloodstream triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine.” This causes grocery shopping and dining out as a gluten-free person to be an exhausting and expensive process. Those with Celiac disease avoid gluten at all costs, and such diets should not be glamorized. Luckily if you are a sufferer of Celiac disease, many products have added labels to indicate gluten free and restaurants even offer entire menus of gluten free options to make grocery shopping and eat out a bit easier to enjoy!
Gluten Allergy and Intolerance
A gluten allergy is much the same as any other food allergy where you may have a reaction fro consuming wheat and products with wheat as an ingredient. Symptoms of a wheat allergy could consist of hives, skin rash, nausea, cramps and vomiting, among others. There are also cases of gluten intolerance which is a non-celiac gluten sensitivity that can cause headaches, depression, anxiety fatigue, digestive problems and other symptoms several hours or even days after consuming gluten. Both an allergy and intolerance to gluten can be prevented by being extra careful when reading the ingredient list at the grocery store and educating one's self about what items may contain gluten.
If you suspect you have an allergy or intolerance and choose to try out a gluten free lifestyle, you may feel the effect of feeling lighter and more energized. With that being said, if you are feeling these life improvements from the absence of gluten in your diet, you could have a gluten allergy or intolerance and should seek medical testing to confirm what diet plan is the best for you.
Who Should Not Avoid Gluten?
Dr. Daniel A. Leffler, the director of clinical research at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, remarks that unless diagnosed with Celiac disease or an official intolerance, there is no need to avoid the protein and that those who do are not only wasting their money but also voluntarily putting themselves at risk for deficiencies in vitamin B and fiber. There have even been many studies that have linked whole grain consumption with improved health.
Unless there is a medical reason to avoid gluten, you should not be afraid to consume gluten and the wheat products it can be found in based on the recommended daily serving. The inconvenience and steep cost associated with going gluten-free and the potential medical risks associated with such a diet could be reason enough to continue consuming a gluten-filled diet.
Visit us in store Monday through Friday, 10:30am - 6pm and online shopping is available. Online orders are typically available for pickup within 1-2 hours. You can find us at 275 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables (entrance on Salzedo St) and be sure to check out our gluten free options on your next visit!