Gluten-Free: Food Trend or Medical Must?

You’re following a new workout & nutrition program and haven’t noticed any improvements in your physique. The only thing that you have noticed is constant bloating and digestive problems. Chances are, you have gastrointestinal problems. If body isn’t absorbing any of the food you’re eating, all you muscle meals are going to waste. What could be the cause of this? These symptoms resemble that of gluten sensitivity.  Another cause of these symptoms may be Celiac Disease.

Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease is a genetic autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi (lining) of small intestine. When this lining is damaged, vitamins & nutrients from food cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream, ultimately leading to malnourishment.  People suffering from Celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in grains (wheat, rye, barley). It is a binding agent that helps ingredients stick together. It is typically found in baked goods, processed foods, pizza, breads, and cereal.This disease affects about 1 in 133 Americans each year, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine> Common Gluten-Containing Foods

  • Barley
  • Bran
  • Bulgar
  • Couscous
  • Graham Flour
  • Orzo
  • Pasta    
  • Rye
  • Sauces
  • Seitan
  • Semolina
  • Soy Sauce
  • Stuffing
  • Wheat Bran
  • Wheat Germ

Gluten is also hidden in many medications. Patients should ask their pharmacist or physicians whether their medications contain any wheat products.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms of Celiac Disease include but are not limited to:

  • Gas &Abdominal Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Loss
  • Changes in bowel movements

Since the symptoms of this disease are generic, diagnosing Celiac Disease isn’t simple. It  can be confused with iron-deficiency anemia, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome. The most accurate way to diagnose Celiac disease, is through blood tests, intestinal biopsy, and antibody screening.

Disease Vs Intolerance

There is a difference between Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance. For many years, there were only two possibilities, either you have the disease or you have gluten intolerance, nothing in between. Researchers say there is a new type of gluten intolerance, called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The full disease is much worse than having sensitivity. Regardless of  having the disease or sensitivity, the treatment will be the same, remove gluten from the diet.

Risks

If a person with this disease continues to eat gluten, they will severely damage their small intestine. This also causes the risk of gastrointestinal cancer to increase exponentially. Of the patients diagnosed with Celiac disease, about 15 % develop gastrointestinal carcinoma. With such a high cancer rate, it is crucial that this disease is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Another risk of having gluten sensitivity or celiac disease is a vitamin deficiency. Some important vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that are not absorbed due to this disease are iron, calcium, folate, vitamin B.

Take Action

If after reading this article, you suspect that you may have a gluten intolerance, make an appointed to get tested for celiac disease. Also since, celiac disease is genetic, please have your family members get tested if you if you receive positive test results. The only way to find out if you have sensitivity to gluten is to remove it from your diet and see if your symptoms lessen.

Gluten Free Diet

The best recommended way to treat Celiac disease is to completely remove gluten from the diet. Stay away from wheat, rye, and barley. Don’t even think about drinking beer anymore! Surprisingly, most of the junk food that people eat, contains gluten! There are still so many foods that you can eat like meat, fruits, vegetables, and potatoes . Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about gluten-free foods. So what exactly makes something “gluten-free?” In order to be termed “gluten-free, foods must not include wheat, barley, or rye. This recent article from the FDA, explains how Gluten-Free foods are labeled.

Major food companies have developed gluten-free versions of all their popular foods. The best way to treat this disease is to completely remove gluten from the diet. After switching to this gluten-free diet, many of the symptoms will start to dissipate instantly. A 2008 study: Incidence of Autoimmune Diseases in Celiac Disease: Protective Effect of the Gluten-Free Diet, concluded that celiac patients most at risk for autoimmune diseases are those diagnosed early in life. The gluten-free diet has a protective effect against many auto-immune diseases. The gluten-free diet isn’t only for those who have this disease, anyone can try it. At first, finding the right combinations of foods to eat can be frustrating. But there are so many foods to eat, all it takes is creativity. It just means finding alternatives to the foods containing gluten. Follow this link for some Gluten-Free Recipes. Let us know what is your favorite!

Conclusion

With all the information provided in this article, you can now make the choice to stick to your normal diet or try the gluten-free diet. Maybe you realized that you might have gluten sensitivity, so please go get tested. If you really want to meet all of your health & fitness goals, absorbing all the nutrients from your food is crucial. Here is an infographic that sums up many of the key points in this article.

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