Have you ever wondered why it seems like everyone is giving up gluten? You might be thinking, how did this allergy all of a sudden come into existence and effect so many people? The reality is that only a small percentage of people actually have an allergy to gluten but a large marjority of people see positive results from eliminating it.
Celiac disease is an allergy to gluten which is found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats. People with Celiac disease must avoid gluten in their diet. If they don't, there are short-term and serious long-term health consequences. When a person with Celiac disease is exposed to gluten it causes flattening of the villi in the small intestine, the finger like projections responsible for absorbing nutrients. The most common symptoms include bloating, weight loss, and diarrhea but there are a number of other symptoms that may occur including fatigue, dry skin, rashes, smooth tongue, abdominal discomfort, joint pain, headache, anemia, depression, anxiety, tingling in hands or feet, menstrual abnormalities, smelly stools, constipation, or weight gain. The main problem with this disease is that nutrients are not absorbed because of the damage done to the intestinal track. Lack of nutrients can cause an endless amount of problems.
If you do have Celiac disease it is extremely important to stick to a gluten-free diet because the long term effects are serious. Some conditions associated with untreated celiac disease are esophageal cancer, lymphoma, arthritis, osteoporosis, anemia, and even infertility.
Celiac disease is the most serious reason why a person would want to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. But, what if you don't have Celiac disease? Interestingly, the majority of people – including the 99% of Americans who don’t have celiac disease – also respond favorably to a gluten free diet. The reason for this is because the small intestine is not designed to digest the large amounts of processed carbohydrates that are present in the standard American diet. Most of us don't have celiac disease, but a large number of people have gluten intolerance, which means your body feels better when you’re avoiding foods that contain gluten. Eating a gluten-free diet has helped a lot of kids (and adults). Personally, I notice a huge difference in my digestion when I avoid gluten.
Going gluten-free may seem like an impossible task. The problem is that Americans have grown so accustomed to eating breads, cookies, crackers, muffins, and packaged foods. All of these foods contain gluten unless it specifically says gluten-free. Optimally, the goal should be to eliminate all packaged convenience foods from your diet whether or not you are avoiding gluten because they are nutritionally void.
Just because a product says its gluten-free doesn't mean that it's automatically a healthy food. There is a huge amount of gluten-free junk food on the market. It's always important to read labels to see what exactly is in your food.