Taking a stroll through the local grocery store, you may notice many products that now boast that they are gluten-free. Not even 10 years ago, labels like this did not exist and it was rare to find someone with a diet that restricted gluten. Why is it so bad and what is gluten anyway?
Gluten is a type of protein found in many grains, including wheat, barley, oats, and rye. Therefore, it is in almost every food we eat, from bread to pasta, to the cereals that make up much of the typical American diet. It is responsible for the “light and airy” texture we love in our breads.
Unfortunately, for the many who suffer from celiac disease, as well as others who don't even have the disease, gluten is also responsible for a slew of poor health conditions and a higher risk of death.
Sadly, many people live with a gluten allergy or intolerance and don't even know it. They may go from doctor to doctor searching for why they feel so ill all the time. Some just don't know that it's possible to feel better and they continue to live in a state of mediocre health.
What's sadder is many doctors don't even know to test for it, or what signs may accompany it. Some of the most prevalent symptoms of gluten intolerance are digestive upsets, like gas, constipation or diarrhea. This is because gluten tends to irritate the digestive track, causing foods to not be properly digested and eliminated.
So, why do we hear about gluten intolerance so much now?
Most of us never had any friends who couldn't eat gluten, but most of our children have several friends who are sensitive to it. One reason is the over-processing of grains in America, which denatures their normally, health-giving components. When prepared properly and not stripped of certain vital nutrients, gluten works synergistically with other parts of the grain, to make a nourishing food, rather than an irritant.
Another reason for the sudden increase in gluten sensitivities is the genetically modified wheat being produced in America today. The wheat being produced in America has been modified to have a higher gluten content in order to produce a lighter, fluffier bread product. When the delicate balance of nutrients found in grains, as well as any plant, is disturbed, it almost always leads to a damaging end result, such as celiac disease. This is why it is best to eat food in its most natural state, with very little processing.
With proper treatment and good food preparation, living with gluten intolerance doesn't have to be intolerable. It is possible to have an enjoyable, healthy life.