GLUTEN: WHAT IT IS, WHY GO GLUTEN-FREE, HEALTH EFFECTS!

5:34:00 PM

Over the past several years there have been many dietary options that have emerged, a major one being "gluten-free". In an attempt in trying to be more aware of what I put in my body and plain curiosity, I decided to research gluten and provide my simple understanding on the topic!

What is gluten?
Gluten is the name given to proteins found in grains (mainly wheat, rye and barley) which is responsible for the elastic dough texture when mixed with water. It comprises of two proteins; glutenin and gliadin which cause some negative health effects.

Sources:
The main sources of gluten include: bread, soup, pasta, cereal, baked goods, roux, soup, salad dressings, malt, beer, food coloring, rye bread, malt vinegar, pastries etc! (unless it's stated as gluten-free)

Health Effects:
Gluten can have some negative effects on people whose bodies can not tolerate it mainly Celiac disease, also wheat allergy and non celiac gluten sensitivity
Celiac disease is the most common disorder associated with gluten whereby the body is intolerant to gluten digestion. Studies show that you are not only born with celiac disease but can also develop it with age! Due to the gluten intolerance in celiac disease, an individual would develop diarrhea, stomach cramps, intestinal bloating, constipation, tiredness (if that sounds familiar whenever you eat grains, consult a doctor) and without treatment would cause inability to absorb nutrients, damaging the small intestines. 
Some people, however, do not get digestive symptoms but still get other celiac disease symptoms which makes it difficult for a lot of people with celiac disease to know they have it!
People with Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) and wheat allergy can also benefit from cutting out gluten from their diets.


Gluten-free food sources:
While it seems like all the good food contains gluten, there are a ton of foods that naturally do not contain gluten including: fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry, fish and seafood, dairy, beans, legumes and nuts. 
There are also a couple of grains that are naturally gluten free that can be added to your diet: rice, cassava, flax seeds, beans, quinoa, millet, potato, soy, corn, sorghum, chia etc So one will never be lacking in grains while living gluten-free.
And do not be afraid, if you like your drinks, most beverages are gluten free including juices, sports drinks and sodas (really!) but my favorite part is most alcoholic drinks like wine and liquors are naturally gluten free (yessss!) with the exception of beer, ales, lager and malt beverages made using grains unless it's produced gluten free.

Going gluten-free:
Starting a gluten-free lifestyle may not be an easy task. First, you should contact a doctor to test your gluten tolerance. Majority of people do not need to go gluten free however this may help improve a lot of health conditions. Also, you will need to check labels on food, a lot of foods surprisingly contain wheat and other gluten in their ingredients, but don't be fooled just because food is gluten free doesn't mean it's healthy!

For more information on gluten and going gluten free, please check out live science and authority nutrition.
For more information on Celiac disease, please check out the Celiac Disease Foundation here

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