When someone says “I am going gluten free” many immediately assume that this person is just trying yet another trending diet to shed off those pesky ponds or, even worse, here’s yet another person turning paranoid. Although this may be just another fad diet for some, there is such a thing as gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, and the best way to develop an educated opinion, is to review a wealth of information that is available today.
Last year, an entertaining video by comedian Jimmy Kimmel Live trended on social media. In it, people interviewed on the streetwere asked if they avoided gluten and if they knew whatgluten is. Not surprising, most said they were avoiding gluten but few actually knew what glutenis, thought it was bad and, thus, had to be avoided. So let’s start with the basics: what is gluten?
Gluten is a proteinfound mainly in wheat, rye, and barley. Foods that contain gluten include pasta, breads, pastries, pizza, and other baked goods. But these are the obvious sources. Wheat can also be added to foods as surprising as sauces, ketchup, and even sushi. This is because not only does gluten give baked goods its delicious consistency, but it also can be used as a thickener or binder.
Why does any of this matter?
Gluten is not like other proteins. It can cause gut cells to release a substance called zonulin, which can cause some tears in the gastrointestinal tract’s protective net. This net, when intact, is responsible for selecting what can safely go into our bodies and what should not cross into the bloodstream. When there are holes in this protective net, particles that should not be getting into our bloodstream(or are too big) can now cross over. This is also known as leaky gut, and gluten is just one of the triggers.
Leaky gut may not seem problematic initially, but having these foreign particles cross into our bloodstream stimulates a reaction from our immune system. This is when our bodies start experiencing overall inflammation and other symptoms such as bloating, fatigue, food sensitivities, and even headaches.
In the case of celiac disease, when gluten comes in contact with our gastrointestinal tract, our immune system is stimulated as mentioned above, but the difference is that it will attack the villi as it attempts to eliminate gluten. The villi are finger like projections in our small intestine and a key component of nutrient absorption. This is why in celiac disease, the destruction of the villi can cause some serious nutrient deficiencies such as B vitamins, calcium, iron, and others, as well as the symptoms associated with gut.
Whether it’s celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the symptoms can greatly vary from bloating and other gut related issues to skin conditions, fatigue, and headache. Regardless of what inspires you to initiate your gluten-free journey, whether you are considering it, or feel like this is not really your thing, I encourage you to remember to be mindful and respectful other people’s choices. This applies, not only to people who don’t believe gluten sensitivityis an authentic issue, but also to those who wish to convince their friends and family to turn to a gluten-free lifestyle.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness designated September as Celiac Awareness Month. To help increase awareness among our customers and friends, PureFormulas has created a gluten video course that includes everything you need to know about gluten,including:
-A comprehensive review of the basics of gluten,
-Full understanding of the effects of gluten on the body,
-Suggestions of gluten-free alternatives,
This free video course also provides great tools, guides, and graphics to help you decide whether you want to turn to a gluten-free lifestyle. As a bonus, we have included mouthwatering gluten-free recipe options that include a cheesy flatbread, veggie pasta dishes and brownie cookies—among others.
For more information and resources, visit us at:
Until next time!