It’s hard these days to go to a grocery store or restaurant and not see the words “Gluten-Free.” About 15 years ago the only individuals on gluten free diets were those with Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder in which the body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine following meals containing gluten. That is not the case these days. Many people without celiac disease have begun to remove gluten from their diets. Why is this? Besides the fact that there are varying levels of allergies to gluten ranging from celiac disease to gluten sensitivity, it may simply because they feel better when doing so.
Gluten is the general name for the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. It can also be found in many hidden sources, so I included a helpful chart below. The peptides found in gluten have been shown in research to increase intestinal permeability. Increased intestinal permeability has been associated with many autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but also with diseases related to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been associated with many medical and psychiatric disorders, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, cancer, autoimmune diseases, schizophrenia and depression.
I remember when I first started dating my now wife. She would experience episodes of crippling abdominal pain to the point where she would be keeled over the bed gripping her stomach. These episodes would come and go with no real pattern to them. When she would come home from work she would have to take a nap just so she could make it to the gym for 30 minutes. After recommending a food sensitivity panel and finding out that she was sensitive to wheat and other gluten containing foods we removed gluten from her diet. She now has more energy than she has ever had in the past, almost never napping and I can’t remember the last time she had an episode of stomach pain.
Nobody really knows why so many people are sensitive to gluten these days. There are theories that gluten and wheat are not the same as they were in the past due to the hybridization of the wheat plant. All we really know is that for many people who don’t even know they are sensitive to gluten, removing it from their diets seems to make a world of difference.
|What to Look Out for On the Ingredient Label||Other Hidden Sources of Gluten|
|Wheat||Binders and Fillers|
|Kamut||Salad Dressings& Sauces|
|Spelt||Soup & Chili Bases|
|Farr||Processed Deli Meats|
|Durum||Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein|
|Oats (Although these are naturally gluten free, they are often processed in facilities with gluten containing grains and may become cross-contaminated)||Artificial Crab|