Gluten-free products are on the rise. As a matter of fact, there are more gluten-free products sold on store shelves than ever before in history. This has created quite the concern with people, because those that don’t exactly know what gluten is are curious about whether or not they should be avoiding it altogether. As a nurse I hear this quite often,”What is gluten?” or “Is gluten bad for me?” So I felt it a great topic to quickly go over so you all can be in the know.
Gluten is the stuff in bread that holds it together. It makes bread chewy and makes pre-cooked dough elastic so that it stretches. It’s actually a protein found in wheat and other similar grains, like barley and rye. People that have the biggest issue with gluten are people who’ve been diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. This is, what they call, a genetic auto-immune disease where the small intestine has become damaged and causes a problem when it comes to absorbing certain nutrients from food. The good news is that only about 1% of the population in the U.S. has been diagnosed with this disease. However about 85% of those people are un-diagnosed or mis-diagnosed with other illnesses. The bad news is that there are about 5 times as many people who are gluten sensitive aka Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.
Gluten sensitivity is a little trickier. Gluten sensitivity is the condition where there is little to NO intestinal damage that occurs with Celiac’s Disease and that this effects about 18 million people in the U.S., an
d most of them are adults. There is some growing research out there that is suggesting that people who have these gluten sensitivities aren’t sensitive to gluten, but instead to a particular type of poorly-digested carbohydrate the are calling FODMAP’s but this research is still in its early stages.
If you’re worried that you may be sensitive to gluten, have a gluten allergy, or may even be thinking you want to get checked out for Celiac’s Disease, here are some symptoms that could indicate you have an issue with gluten:
- bloating, gas and/or abdominal pain
- hard to flush, bulky or loose stools
- diarrhea or constipation/itchy skin rash
- tingling or numbness in hands and feet
- discolored teeth or loss of enamel
- canker sores/joint pain/fractures or thin bones
- irritability or behavior changes/significant unexplained weight loss
- poor weight gain/delayed growth
Although I’ve never had any issues with gluten, I have had many clients that have. Many of them struggle to find healthy food and snack options that are not only gluten free but taste good also. This is one of the many reasons I’ve chosen USANA Health Sciences as a product partner. Their food line is not only gluten free and delicious, but it is a low glycemic option. This means it won’t spike blood sugars and is a healthy choice for Type II diabetics too. Here’s a little video clip that I’ve found useful explaining USANA’s delicious gluten-free food line.
If you’d like to know more about USANA and their food line, click here.
I hope this helps answer some of the questions you might be having about gluten and whether or not it’s a healthy choice for you. If you’d like some more answers on this topic, I’d suggest you go to the Celiac Disease Foundation website. It’s a great resource and is HIGHLY educational.