Should You Be Living a Gluten-Free Lifestyle?
“I’m Gluten-Free” is a phrase you’ll hear a lot coming out of restaurant diners’ mouths these days. But living a gluten-free lifestyle takes planning…gluten’s everywhere!
Foods That Aren’t Gluten-Free
Gluten is present in numerous foods you might not even know about:
- processed meats
- sauce mixes
- brown-rice syrup
- soy sauce
Gluten can also be present in non-food items like lipstick, lip gloss, lip balm, play dough, medications, and supplements. So living a gluten-free lifestyle can be tricky if you don’t know where the protein might be.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye or barley.
In the U.S., the majority of our wheat production is the hard red wheat variety. Hard wheat has more gluten than soft wheat. Soft wheat is predominantly used in Europe and only makes up less than a quarter of U.S. wheat production.
What’s more, the gluten in hard wheat is actually stronger than soft wheat gluten. That tougher gluten is great for baking soft, fluffy bread, while soft gluten is best for pastries.
So given the kind of wheat we generally eat, it’s not surprising that those with gluten sensitivity are likely to experience symptoms.
Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity
For the majority of Americans, eating gluten doesn’t have any impact on their insides. But for those with gluten intolerance — an estimated 15 percent of the population — eating this protein causes a whole host of issues.
When a person with a gluten intolerance ingests the protein, their body fights against the gluten with inflammation, creating any number of these symptoms:
- Digestive issues including abdominal pain, gassiness, and diarrhea
- headaches, migraines, dizziness or seizures
- Skin rashes
- Depression and anxiety
- Fertility issues
- Joint pain
inflammatory diets or chronic inflammatory diseases
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disorder, that affects about 1 in 100 Americans.
When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, it sets off an autoimmune response in which their body starts attacking their small intestine.
Medical professionals don’t know the reasons that celiac is on the rise. It could be a result of changes in the way wheat is grown and processed, or how often gluten is found in medications and processed foods. But there are no clear-cut causes for the uptick.
Living a Gluten-Free Lifestyle
If you’re planning to live a gluten-free lifestyle, then it’s crucial to know how to eat gluten-free the right way.
That doesn’t mean indulging in gluten-free cookies, pizza with gluten-free crust or gluten-free bagels for breakfast. Because even if something is gluten-free, it doesn’t mean it’s healthier than its gluten-full counterparts. In fact, in some cases, it may have more lipids and sugar!
It’s best to take a holistic approach to your diet. Determine how much of your food intake contains grains including barley, wheat, and rye. Are you eating a lot of sugary foods? How can you work to cut down?
I also highly recommend figuring out how you can add healthy foods to your diet instead of focusing on what you need to eliminate. When we have to omit foods, it can be a tougher transition.
So consider adding more veggies, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats to your diet. You’ll feel better, have more energy and cut down on inflammation. Plus, you won’t feel deprived as you transition away from foods with gluten in them.
To your health,
The content on heartroothealth.com is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.