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To Be or Not To Be Gluten-Free?

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The Goods on Gluten

Gluten is part of a protein found in three grains -- wheat, rye and barley -- which lends elasticity and chew to products like bread and pizza dough. In healthy individuals, these foods pose no problem. But in those with wheat sensitivities or allergies, gluten damages parts of the small intestine called villi, finger-like projections lining the gut that absorb nutrients. "Imagine your gut is lined with a shag rug," Bazilian suggests. "Those are the villi. Over time, Celiac disease flattens the rug, making it smooth like linoleum, so they can't hang on to nutrients."

Unfortunately, wheat is such a prominent part of the American diet that it can be extremely difficult to eradicate. Besides obvious culprits, like wheat bread, gluten hides out in soy sauce, malt vinegar, couscous, beer and wine, licorice, certain broths and energy bars, even communion wafers. Cousins of wheat, including spelt, kamut, farrow, durum, semolina and triticale, will also trigger allergies. Oats don't contain gluten but may be contaminated during processing.

If you're gluten intolerant, you'll know it, experiencing nasty GI symptoms almost immediately after ingesting wheat, barley or rye. Celiac disease, on the other hand, may or may not result in bloating, gassiness, constipation or diarrhea. Instead, you may be irritable or depressed, or experience joint pain, a skin rash, anemia, mouth sores or weight loss. A gastroenterologist or internist can diagnose gluten allergies through an intestinal biopsy and blood work. The next step is to meet with a dietitian who can help you chart out a meal plan.

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jeanplrn wrote:

I am an RN and have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity rather than full-blown celiac disease. Since I have been off gluten, I have my life back. I was ready for a wheelchair when I was eating gluten and eggs. People need to understand that the wheat of today is genetically engineered altering the protein and making it stronger, this is why so many people are becoming sensitive to products with wheat and gluten.

10/17/2013 04:14:44 PM Report Abuse
mok_alk wrote:

Just remember that celiac is an autoimmune disease that is being diagnosed more frequently than ever before thanks to blood tests and other immune marker tests. Celiac does not always impact your GI tract and eating gluten if you have celiac is serious stuff! If you eat GF and you feel better (fewer migraines, fewer skin woes, more energy, etc.), you make have celiac and not know it. Check with your doc before hopping back on the wheat wagon. (Oh and I have celiac and do miss wheat.)

10/17/2013 02:22:37 PM Report Abuse
anonymous wrote:

One more comment - as a RN for 22 years, I have worked with many people who medically required a gluten-free diet.

10/17/2013 12:09:14 PM Report Abuse
anonymous wrote:

Unless a person has been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet is not the answer. It is not a weight loss diet, it is strict and lifelong. Approximately 1 in 100 people have it in the US but have no symptoms. I had none when diagnosed 22 years ago. Try no new diet without consulting your physician.

10/17/2013 12:07:40 PM Report Abuse
katzwack1 wrote:

Yes -- Gluten-free is the way to go and WILL help you lose weight. Just don't buy the gluten-free products. Rice flour is no better. Just eat protein, fruits and veggies and your bloat and "pooch" will disappear in weeks

10/17/2013 11:00:04 AM Report Abuse

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