Gluten-Free Resources

10 Things to know about gluten-free

1. WHAT IS GLUTEN?

Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in several common grains — primarily wheat, barley and rye.

2. WHAT PRODUCTS USUALLY CONTAIN GLUTEN?

Breads, pasta, cookies, cakes, soy sauce, beer, cereal, salad dressings, processed lunch meats, gravies, croutons, french fries, soups, sauces, and many more. It’s also important to note how some ingredients that don’t inherently contain gluten may become “contaminated” through the shared use of processing equipment. This is sometimes called “cross contamination”. Some cosmetics and topical skin products contain gluten as well.

3. Why is Gluten-Free becoming so popular?

First, doctors are more accurately diagnosing Celiac disease these days. For a long time, many people were inaccurately diagnosed with other ailments (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, skin conditions, depression, low energy, migraines, etc). Also, many ordinary people are coming forward with compelling stories about reducing the gluten in their diets and feeling better as a result. And word travels fast.

4. Is being gluten-free a fad?

Yes. And no.
Many people will adopt a gluten-free diet as the next big thing. Then they’ll move on to the next one. But for an increasing number of us, the dietary need for a gluten-free lifestyle isn’t going anywhere soon since it helps us cope with a biological sensitivity or intolerance. Imagine what a “Diabetes Diet” might look like in the headlines — it’s on the same level as that.

5. How much gluten is in a normal diet?

If you would like a comprehensive answer, see this article at celiac.com. But, basically counting milligrams is only relevant if you know how that translates to your own body. The truth is, there’s no real “normal” — each body reacts differently to gluten. It might be helpful to keep a food log to note exactly what you’re eating and when, then decide if you need to reduce or remove gluten from your diet.

6. Is it hard or boring to have  a gluten-free diet?

At first it is, sure. Like everything, it takes some getting used to. You’ll need to read labels more carefully. And you might feel awkward asking “does this have gluten in it?” or “do you have any gluten-free options?” but it’s becoming more and more commonplace. Many restaurants now have gluten-free options, and many grocery stores have several gluten-free versions of common foods like bread or pasta. Many stores even have entire gluten-free sections with lots of choices. And there are apps for your phone and plenty of websites with good information and support.

7. How common is celiac disease?

From the National Institute of Health: “More than 2 million people in the United States have the disease, or about 1 in 133 people. Among people who have a first-degree relative—a parent, sibling, or child—diagnosed with celiac disease, as many as 1 in 22 people may have the disease.”

8. What’s the difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity?

If you would like a comprehensive answer,  see this article at celiaccentral.org. Basically, the two can have very similar symptoms but with differing autoimmune responses. Generally speaking, Celiac disease is more damaging to the body when not addressed, though Gluten Sensitivity can certainly cause problems as well.

9. Common symptoms of intolerance and celiac disease

Bloating, gas, diarrhea, itchy skin or rashes, headaches, poor growth, constipation, fatigue, depression, joint pain, irritability, mouth sores and more. Not very pleasant.ell.

10. Is the gluten-free lifestyle healthier? 

This is a hotly debated question with many vested interests weighing in. We think the more appropriate question is “Is a GF lifestyle healthier for you?” Millions of people show great lifestyle improvement by reducing or removing gluten from their diets. Some do not. Results truly vary from person to person. But limiting or removing gluten does not intrinsically have negative affects as long as you eat a balanced diet. (Many Asian diets are very low in gluten.)