You’ve seen it mentioned in the magazines, and you may have even heard your favorite celebs talk about it on TV, but with all of the hype in the media have you actually managed to figure out the low down on gluten free yet?
If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t, and you’re probably still asking the question…
Going Gluten Free
In the food world, ‘Gluten Free’ is a massive industry. The market for gluten free foods is worth over $4.3 billion in the US, and consumer demand is only growing. More gluten free products enter the market every year, and you may even be consuming some of them already.
Of course fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat and dairy etc. is all gluten free, but many of the breads and baked goods available are now gluten free too.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a molecule in protein. It’s common in food sources like barley, wheat, rye, and in almost every variety of oat. You’ve heard the term glutinous, well that’s the result of gluten molecules. They give food elasticity. Because of this, many food sources have been selectively bred to increase the gluten content. Even more recently, wheat has been genetically modified artificially to increase gluten content.
There’s Gluten in Foods That You Wouldn’t Suspect
What do soy sauce, food starch, emulsifiers, food coloring, red wine, and beer all have in common? They’re all products that contain gluten. Sometimes when trying to avoid gluten you would need to call the manufacturer for specific details… but hold on. Why would you need gluten free foods?
The Effects of Gluten Sensitivity in Humans
Almost 20 million Americans suffer from some level of gluten insensitivity. Depending on how sensitive the patient is, they could suffer from a range of symptoms after consuming gluten. Even worse for those who suffer is the fact that symptoms can be offset by up to four days, so it can be difficult to identify the gluten culprit. That is why gluten free labelling is so important.
Many assume that gluten sensitivity results in an upset stomach and that’s the end of it, however this is the very light end of the scale. Those more sensitive to the molecule can experience joint pain, skin disorders, and even adverse nervous system reactions after consuming gluten.
The reason that gluten can take so long to react and is so damaging to sensitive victims is because it takes longer to digest than most other food molecules. It passes through the body at an incredibly slow rate, causing damage and adverse reactions along the way. Antibodies begin to seek out the gluten, and this can lead to fatigue for sufferers.
Gluten sensitivity and the consumption of gluten also has more serious risks. Autistic patients may experience worsening autism symptoms when consuming gluten. Gluten sensitivity also has ties to diseases like diabetes, ADHD, Addison’s, and even osteoporosis. New research has shown that infertility and stillbirths may be related to gluten (where the patient is sensitive), and autoimmune disease is more likely for those sensitive individuals who continue to consume gluten.
How Would I Know If I Was Gluten Sensitive or Intolerant?
Your doctor can diagnose gluten sensitivity and intolerance, but the sad truth is that most general practitioners, and even gastro specialists miss the condition when evaluating patients. This is because they will often look for other conditions when the gastrointestinal tract is affected.
However, there are specific tests available, and if any of the above sounds like something that you’re experiencing then you need to talk to us about your problem. An extensive blood test can look for a dozen peptides of gluten, and there is even a newer preliminary test available that screens for gluten sensitivity through a saliva test. After detection, 6 months of complete gluten abstinence and observation of symptoms would be required to categorically prove gluten intolerance or insensitivity.
How Functional Medicine Can Help You
Advanced testing is one thing, but we feel our biggest strength is in the hands on approach that we take with every patient. We’re interested in your story, your experience, and your own unique symptoms. No patient is the same, no level of sensitivity is the same, so why should you settle for a cookie cutter approach to your health?
Going gluten free is a relatively simple change to your diet, and with gluten free labelling more common than ever it is easy to make the right choices. Talk to us today to find out how we can help you with gluten insensitivity, allowing you to take back your health and everyday feelings of wellbeing.