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The Truth About Gluten

The Truth About Gluten
By Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor: Val Kirk

Celiac disease is where an individual has trouble digesting gluten, which is a protein in gains, such as rye, wheat and barley. The products that carry this protein are in breads, pasta, crackers and many other foods.  Individuals with celiac disease cannot absorb the nutrients they need in their small intestines as this condition is caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten.  This can damage the lining of the small intestine.  That in turn can prevent important nutrients from being absorbed.  Symptoms of this disease are gas, bloating, weight loss, fatigue, diarrhea, anemia, bone pain, and a severe skin rash called dermatitis herpeformis. It should be noted that some people with celiac disease often have few or no symptoms.  This is mainly due to only 5 – 10% of cases are diagnosed in the U.S. or Canada.

The only way of knowing if you have this disease is by a simple blood test that would detect antibodies that would be related to an abnormal immune response. If the blood is positive a biopsy is performed to confirm inflammation in the lining of the small intestine.

So What If You Don’t have Celiac Disease

Some people may be sensitive to gluten but that doesn’t mean they have the disease. These people may feel better on a diet with less gluten.

So what is wrong with the rest of us trying gluten free products.

For starters, going gluten free means saying no to many common and nutritious foods. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.  Gluten also shows up in many whole grain foods related to wheat, including bulgur, fararo, kamut, spelt and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye).  Some celiac disease experts warn patients to stay clear of oats, as well.

So, if you go gluten free, you run the risk of nutritional deficiencies, such as, vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and fiber. Do you want to take the risk, unless you have celiac disease or suspect that you have, get tested.