Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve heard many people talking about gluten and its effects on the human body. But, coming from friends, it may be hard to figure out fact from fiction. And, anecdotes about how much your life can change if you eliminate it from your diet are great to hear, but let’s get down to the cold, hard facts and you can decide for yourself what to believe.
First of all, let’s define the word “gluten”. According to the Celiac Disease foundation, “gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye”. Known as Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity is one of the most common food sensitivities anyone can have. That said, it’s sometimes hard to diagnose and even harder to completely control given that gluten is found in many products that you wouldn’t even imagine it to be.
What happens when you have Celiac Disease?
So, gluten sensitivity is actually a disorder of the immune system. When a person with this disorder consumes gluten, the immune system responds by producing inflammation that then leads to tissue damage throughout the body. While symptoms vary, no tissue, organ or gland in the body is immune to the effects of gluten. Because the brain and nervous systems are both affected by this sensitivity, it can lead to difficulty concentrating, fatigue and irritability.
Hiding in plain sight
Aside from the obvious offenders where wheat, barley and rye are the main, known ingredients, gluten can be found in any packaged or prepared foods, candy and soda. If you’re afflicted with this disorder, you need to learn to read all nutrition labels very carefully to search for gluten. Check out labels on anything that contains artificial colors, broths, food starch, and anything in a package to ensure you’re not inadvertently ingesting gluten. Stick to animal proteins, vegetables, healthy fats and fruits and you don’t need to worry about gluten as they are naturally gluten free.
If you suspect you may have gluten sensitivity, please check with your physician for confirmation. Many disorders and diseases can mimic the same symptoms of gluten intolerance. Your physician will be able to provide you with additional information to help control any adverse effects you may be experiencing.