The chances of you knowing someone who is on a gluten free diet, or refuses to eat certain gluten filled food items, is probably very high. This was not always the case, even very recently. The past few years has seen a rapid rise in people in the US especially, changing their diets to not include anything gluten based. Along with this rise, has come the increase and abundance of gluten free items stacked on shelves in supermarkets and stores. So why the crazy gluten free madness? And does everyone that’s going without it really need to cut gluten from their diet? The simple answer to this last question is no.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.
Why the Resistance?
The spike in recent years of gluten free diets, and those converting to them is no accident. The spike is directly attributed to the skyrocket in diagnoses of Celiac disease and wheat allergies. According to a new study published in Gastroenterology Magazine, Celiac disease is four times more common today than it was 50 years ago. This being said, another recent study has shown that as many as 1.6 million Americans avoid gluten even though they have never been diagnosed with Celiac disease, wheat or gluten sensitivity.
Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, and if not properly monitored and treated, it can lead to other serious and more complicated issues within the stomach and digestive system. Consuming gluten if you do have Celiac disease can also lead to vitamin deficiencies that harm the brain, nervous system, bones, liver, and other organs, as well as stunt the growth of children with the disorder. Symptoms of Celiac disease make it difficult to diagnose, as they can be vague and hard to pinpoint, for instance, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, unexplained weight loss or gain, and unexplained anemia. If you or anyone you know experiences any of these symptoms, consult a physician as soon as possible.
Out of Necessity Only
Going completely gluten-free if it’s not medically necessary (meaning, actually instructed to do so by a medical professional) and could deprive you of nutrients like vitamin B and iron, which are often added to fortified wheat gluten. Jumping on a serious diet or lifestyle, especially one like a gluten-free diet that asks a lot of changes of someone, should never be done without proper research. It may seem that many of the people you know are now gluten-free, but hopefully they are so because they need to be, not because they choose to be.
Always consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for any medical related advice.
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