gluten is one of the most-common food sensitivities
avoiding gluten can be a challenge, but we can help
I get asked about gluten on a weekly basis: What exactly is gluten, and should I avoid it? Gluten is a buzzword these days, with gluten-free foods and food products popping up in the grocery stores every day. I am seeing more and more gluten-free restaurant menus as well as several magazines and online resources dedicated to the gluten-free lifestyle.
what is gluten?
Gluten is actually two proteins that are naturally found in the seeds of some grasses, including wheat, spelt, rye, barley, kamut, and others. The two proteins are gliadin and glutenin. Together they make up the gluten protein. Gliadins are molecularly divided further: alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and omega-gliadins. Glutenins are responsible for the elastic in bread. They are the protein that naturally makes things fluffy. So, we can thank gluten for the qualities that make a great loaf of bread.
In the US, wheat and gluten are prolific in the grocery store. You find it in breads, baked goods, pizza crust, cookies, muffins and lots more. It is also an ingredient in many salad dressings, gravies, sauces, soy sauce and many other processed or packaged foods.
why is gluten a problem for many people?
Gluten-containing grains are the seeds of grasses and are pretty new to the modern diet. These grains were rarely consumed until about 500 generations ago, which isn’t very long, in evolutionary terms. Our genetic makeup hasn’t changed very much over the last 40,000 years. Gluten proteins do not respond well to our digestive enzymes and we are not able to completely break them down. When the body’s intestinal barriers are compromised (because of stress, pollution, or LOTS of other reasons) the large gluten proteins sometimes move past the naturally protective barrier in the digestive tract and into the bloodstream. This condition is known as leaky gut. The gluten itself can even cause or worsen intestinal permeability by compromising the work of zonulin, which is a chemical protein that modulates intestinal permeability. When/if gluten does get through the protective barrier, it meets the immune system and causes an immune response.
signs and symptoms of gluten sensitivities
Gluten can cause all kinds of unpleasant symptoms for people, which is our immune response. This comes in many different forms and impacts many different systems in the body including gastrointestinal issues (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, cramping and vomiting). Sometimes I see gluten sensitivity via skin issues. Rashes and canker sores are very common with children and adult acne can be caused by gluten.
Gluten impacts the nervous system. Common neurological manifestations of gluten sensitivity are a lack of coordination, tingling or loss of sensation in the hands or fingers, and muscle weakness. Gluten sensitivity is also linked to ADHD, and migraines.
how do you know if gluten is a problem for you?
There are a couple different tests that we can do for gluten sensitivity and intolerance. The elimination/provocation is an effective way to tell. Just take gluten out of your diet for a two-week period. When you reintroduce it, do you have any issues?
We also have up-to-date science blood testing that looks at the immune system from many different angles to tell if gluten or another food is problematic for you.
common foods that contain gluten
Gluten is used in the US to make bread fluffy and elastic for a good texture so that you can slice bread without crumbling. It is also used as a stabilizer, binder, flavor enhancer and thickener in foods and food processing. Gluten is in breads, pastas, muffins, pizza, and baked goods. It is also in many beers, sauces, gravies, imitation cheeses, soy sauce, condiments, pickles and LOTS of other processed foods including artificial coloring, malt extract, dextrins, food starches and more. Gluten is the clarifying agent in the making of some wines. Grains that naturally contain gluten include wheat, spelt, barley, rye and kamut.
we offer help
We help clients decide if it’s important for their bodies to be gluten-free and how to painlessly take gluten out of their diets. If you suspect that gluten might be causing you some distress, try removing it for a few weeks. (If you’re not able to, please reach out!) If you are reacting to gluten, you will definitely feel better without it in your diet. We have taken many people gluten-free and helped them feel amazing. We will give you one-on-one support, meal plans, shopping lists and everything you need to make going gluten-free doable and delicious.
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