Monday, May 24, 2010

What's The Deal With Gluten?

Hi Everyone,

The term gluten is a generic term for the storage proteins that are found in grains. People who are diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, or Celiac Disease (or its skin form of dermatitis herpetiformis) must follow a strict gluten-free diet for life. It has been recognized that Celiac disease is one of the most common inherited diseases, with recent studies revealing that 1:100 or 1% of the population are affected. However, many people are finding themselves with a sensitivity to wheat and gluten based food who may not be formally diagnosed with Celiac disease and therefore can benefit from a gluten-free diet.

Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune intestinal disorder. When susceptible individuals consume specific proteins in the grains of wheat, rye, malt, barley, (collectively known as gluten), the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged. This can cause malabsorption of nutrients needed for good health, including iron, calcium, and folate which are key nutrients absorbed in the first part of the small intestine. Celiac disease not only affects the gastrointestinal system but many other systems in the body, such as bone/joint pain, Edema, migraine headaches, mouth ulcers, chronic fatigue, bloating and gas, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation. People diagnosed with Celiac disease may also be lactose and soy intolerant. Treatment for Celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is a strict gluten free diet for life.

The diagnosis is often difficult because of the broad range of symptoms and can vary from very mild to severe or none at all. Individuals are often misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or ulcers. While blood tests are available that can be used to diagnose the disease, the most effective is a small intestinal biopsy. It is critical that a gluten-free diet never be started before the blood tests and biopsy are completed as his can interfere with making an accurate diagnosis.

Following a gluten-free diet for a minimum of a month can help a person determine if there is any relief from symptoms of gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance. Gluten is the substance in flour responsible for forming the structure of dough, holding products together, and leavening. While gluten is evident in baked good such as breads, cookies, cakes, crackers and pasta, it is often a hidden ingredient in many other items such as sauces, marinades, gravies, salad dressings, soups, prepared and deli meats, candy, flavored coffees and teas, as well as some medications and nutritional supplements. Even red licorice and soy sauce contains gluten!

At first it may seem daunting to eliminate many of the foods we consume regularly. However, there are now many gluten free foods to choose from in health and whole food grocery stores, including bread, pasta, cookies and pizza dough. It is important to read all labels before purchasing any product. You’ll find that eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein is the way to get started while you are checking out the labels on all processed, frozen and packaged foods.

There are many foods that you can have that are healthy alternatives or a special treat when you need it. Most ice cream, bread made with millet, flax or corn; popcorn, nuts and seeds just to name a few. Common foods or beverages to avoid are beer, frozen French Fries, canned soups, restaurant sandwiches, fast food burgers and anything breaded are normally made with gluten. Plan ahead when you travel with food and snacks. You can always default to a fresh salad with vinegar and oil dressing and non-breaded protein topping such as chicken or fish. Think fresh and natural food and you won’t go wrong.

When you start feeling better and restore your optimal health, avoiding the foods that formally made you sick won’t be difficult. You’ll notice the hidden benefit of losing extra weight and feeling more energetic just by eating fresh food. It becomes a way of life. For a comprehensive overview of a Gluten-Free Diet, read A Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case.

Cheryl Grace is a professional Feng Shui expert, nationally certified interior refiner, and winner of the 2008-09 Natural Choice Award for Favorite Feng Shui Practitioner. For a consultation for your home or business or to contact Cheryl, e-mail or call 941-400-3816. Visit to shop for contemporary Feng Shui decor and enhancements, or to find a list of Feng Shui seminars taught by Cheryl. For daily Feng Shui tips, follow Cheryl on Twitter and her Blog at ;;

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