09 Oct Gluten Sensitivity
By Michele Reid, PhD – Certified Integrative Nutrition Coach
Gluten is a protein composite found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. This protein can causes reactions in people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Gluten intolerance can manifest itself as a wide range of symptoms. Here are some most common ones, although by no means exhaustive: abdominal pain and cramping, arthritis, attention deficit disorder (ADD), bloating, constipation, irritability, stunted growth (due to poor absorption of nutrients), fatigue, headaches, nausea, osteoporosis, teeth and gum problems, unexplained weight gain or weight loss.
Celiac disease – a digestive condition triggered by the consumption of gluten – can cause damage of the villi in the intestinal lining, resulting in a gradual decrease in the ability to absorb any nutrients from ingested food, leading to stunted growth and malnutrition. The damage that are done to the intestinal lining also leads to a higher likelihood of leaky gut syndrome, which can create other types of food sensitivities and systemic health issues.
In the case of gluten sensitivity, the protein composite escapes the confines of the digestive tract and makes its way into the bloodstream. When the protein composite reaches the brain, it can cause damages leading to mood issues, attention deficit and sometimes learning disabilities.
Usually an elimination diet is the most common and definitive way to confirm gluten intolerance. However, some doctors recommend blood testing and allergen testing to be done first so that biomarkers indicating celiac disease can be confirmed.
If you are indeed tested positive for gluten sensitivities, care needs to be taken to avoid gluten in your diet. Grains such as wheat, barley, bulgar, kamut, spelt and rye are of course the obvious foods to avoid (oat and oatmeal themselves do not contain gluten, but can be contaminated due to processing and manufacturing process), however, there are also hidden sources of gluten in our food supply that we may not be aware of. These can include: cheese spreads, flavored yogurt and other frozen dairy products, hot chocolate mixes, chocolates, candy/energy bars, soup mixes and canned soups, processed meat (hot dogs, sausages), gravies and other sauces mixes, ketchup, mustards, marinades, nut butter, soy sauce, drink mixes and other packaged beverages, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (found in may prepared or processed foods), children’s modeling dough (Play-Doh), some nutritional supplements, some medications, and some cosmetics such as lipstick and lip balms.
Since gluten can be found in so many hidden sources, it’s best to stick with whole foods as much as possible. If you have to buy processed and packaged foods, read the labels carefully and pick ones that have as few additives as possible.
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