Going gluten-free is growing in popularity. From gluten-free baby chews to kids cereal to entire gluten-free restaurants its everywhere. Especially here in Boulder Colorado, where we have a gluten-free pasta joint downtown. But is sensitivity really that widespread or is it a passing trend?
In what foods is gluten found?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut and triticale. Today in the United States, gluten and highly processed wheat products are added as fillers to many products. Any thing from soy sauce to salad dressing to corn chips (even additives such as "caramel coloring" or "flavoring") can contain some gluten. For those who are very sensitive you must read labels.
How bad is gluten?
There is a large spectrum of sensitivities to allergies. Some people just feel more alive, more energetic and healthy when off gluten. Some children have better concentration. Some people can get a skin rash, frequent colds or mild to severe digestive problems. People with Celiac disease are poisoned by the protein in gluten. It literally eats away at their small intestines. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body produces antibodies to gluten that mistake the lining of the small intestine for the invading gluten and attack selected patches of its own intestinal cells!
Click to check out how processed wheat often is:
Skin tests can be unreliable, as are blood tests. Some with Celiac disease have blood tests that are positive for antibodies to gluten. Most of the time gluten sensitivities are difficult to detect with any test. Just like any sensitivity the most accurate way to see if you are sensitive is to remove it from your diet.
The most effective way to see if you are sensitive to gluten is to eliminate it completely from your diet. Look up lists to see what foods contain gluten (you may be surprised by the things that contain it). Keep it out of your diet for at least two weeks up to two months. Changes can be immediate or for some it can take years to resolve all physical issues. If changes with gluten elimination are subtle or you can tell about a month after going gluten-free try the allergen in a large amount and a very concentrated form in one sitting (eat a bowl of cream of wheat) and then do not eat it again for 3 days. You must allow the 3 days without the gluten to see if you may have a "delayed sensitivity,” meaning it could take up to 3 days to see the symptoms.
What's with oats?
Oats do not contain gluten. But, most oats processed in the US are processed on machines that also process wheat or other gluten-laden grains. This contaminates the batch of oats with trace amounts of gluten and can cause those who are very sensitive to gluten to react. There are specific companies who sell gluten-free oats (those processed in gluten-free conditions).
If you are having symptoms that you can't seem to shake or can't pinpoint the cause of, try eliminating some allergens from your diet. Gluten is just one of the many allergens. Symptoms include body rash, a baby with diaper rash, digestive issues of any kind from diarrhea to gas to constipation, acne, joint pain, and much more.
Please follow up with your nutritionist or chiropractor for more information or a personalized plan.