Monday, March 11, 2013

Are You Gluten-Free?

Gluten Sensitivity

Celiac disease is characterized by a food allergy to products containing gluten, a main component in wheat. Individuals plagued with this disease often suffer from chronic vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Sounds horrible, right? To reduce this agony, suffers are forced to follow a strict diet regimen avoiding all foods containing even the scarcest amount of wheat. Interestingly enough, this past year doctors and researchers have announced that there is a new, non-celiac gluten sensitivity condition arising in individuals across the nation. Diagnostics, long-term side effects, and complete epidemiological statistics are still not entirely known. However, there have been more and more cases involving individuals eliminating wheat and gluten products from their diets and seeing major improvements including: weight loss, reduced fatigue, clearer skin, and decrease in pre-existing food allergies. Skeptically, all of the reported positive side-effects could just be results of increased exercise, different dietary changes, and several other environmental factors. Until further medical research can confirm these results to be valid and reliable, it is suggested to remain consuming gluten normally if it does not adversely give physical symptoms.
[A gluten-free diet] is not a healthier diet for those who don’t need it,” Dr. Guandalini, [medical director at the University of Chicago's Celiac Disease Center] said. These people “are following a fad, essentially.” He added, “And that’s my biased opinion.”

Historically, gluten was only introduced 10,000 years ago into normal diets, following the rise of agriculture and farming of wheat. This can evolutionary explain why some may develop a gluten sensitivity, considering that our most primitive ancestors were never exposed to the substance. Gluten's main proteins are glutenin and gliadin, and gliadin contains "repeating patterns of amino acids that the human digestive system cannot break down." Sufferers of Celiac disease have genetic mutations which causes intestinal villi to atrophy in the presence of these proteins.  Researchers and geneticists are analyzing gliadin antibody blood samples in individuals with this new, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and are trying their hardest to find answers. Unfortunately, blood tests are of little value as they only "indicate the presence of the fragments in the blood, which can occur for a variety of reasons and do not necessarily indicate a chronic illness." It's safe to say that permanently treating this arising condition, like many others, will still have to wait until further genetic sequencing and medical research are preformed.

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  1. I think what most of the population is missing here is that typically, gluten is found in most of the "unhealthy" foods. One must remember that almost all desserts, excluding ice cream, are flour based; where does flour come from? wheat. This doesn't only apply to sweets; many other foods containing wheat are high in sugars and saturated fats, or both - i.e. pizza, cheeseburgers, pasta etc.. So although yes, many Americans today are finding they have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, its not the gluten thats making them unhealthy, its the unhealthy foods that are already full of wheat products. Cut out wheat and you cut out almost all sweets and easily accessible snack foods. Regardless, I think everyone should be tested for a sensitivity to gluten; great article.

  2. Celiac disease can be very serious if undiagnosed because in some cases it can cause a decrease in the absorption of nutrients which can cause vitamin deficiencies. These vitamin deficiencies can deprive your brain, peripheral nervous, bones, liver, and other organs of vital nourishment.