Lately I have heard a lot about a gluten free diet being referred to as the "next fad diet" (which kinda aggravates me). It may be a fad for some, but for many of us, it is a necessary way of life.
To start, the wheat we are eating nowadays is far different than it used to be.The strains have been crossbred over the years leading to a wheat that has 50% more gluten than its counterparts!
To top it off, for most of us, our bodies are not meant to be able to digest this much gluten. Therefore, if your body is sensitive to it, even a small amount could be detrimental to your health.
I know a lot of you have discovered you have some degree of intolerance to wheat, whether it’s a sensitivity or a true allergy. I have as well, and I think it’s at least worth looking into if you've been experiencing some of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity.(see below)
So what is gluten? It’s a protein found in products containing wheat. It is estimated that celiac disease (a gluten allergy) affects between 0.7% and 1% of the population. However, it’s estimated that up to 1 in 20 people in the US could have NCGS (Non celiac gluten sensitivity). It’s difficult to estimate the exact prevalence of NCGS because there is no definitive test for it. One way to find out if you’re sensitive to gluten is to remove it from your diet for a couple weeks and monitor your symptoms to see if they improve.
If you have NCGS you have trouble absorbing essential nutrients from food. In fact, gluten could be damaging the lining of your intestine causing leaky gut syndrome and also causing an imbalance in your gut flora (the important bacteria that regulates your immune system).
Leaky gut is something we don’t hear about often (not sure why) but it can be very dangerous to your health. It can cause inflammation which can lead to chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes as well as autoimmune diseases. In fact, more and more research is showing a strong link between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease and some doctors are even testing for this upon diagnosis(good idea).
Americans have increased their wheat intake over the years (because we've been told it’s healthy for us), but each of us should still evaluate whether or not the recommended nutrition guidelines are working for us. It takes some experimentation and time, (believe me, I know I am still experimenting) to find out how your body reacts to different foods, but it’s worth it in the long run.
I’m definitely not an expert in this area, just stumbled upon all of this a few years ago for personal reasons, but the more I learn the more fascinated I am. I think it is definitely something that is not talked about nearly enough in the healthcare field but needs to be. It’s really amazing how important food is to our heath.
For a list of symptoms of NCGS visit this website: