Bearkat bite: The gluten free myth

A popular item appearing more frequently in groceries stores and restaurants is gluten free products. Along with the craze of gluten free items is the myth that it is healthier to have a gluten free diet. This is true if you are diagnosed with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but otherwise, gluten in your diet is relatively harmless. Here are few things to know before altering your diet around gluten.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. You will find wheat in breads, pastas, cereals and some salad dressings. Barley is found in beer and in foods containing malt. Rye is found in some cereals, but mostly found in rye bread and beer. As you can see, gluten is found in many food eaten every day- making your options rather limited when you decide to cut gluten from your diet.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Some of the symptoms of this disease include gas, bloating, stomach pains, weight loss, weakness and even vomiting after eating gluten products. This disease can be hard to detect but once diagnosed you will feel a lot better and be more energized throughout the day.

What is gluten sensitivity?

A gluten sensitivity is when your body does not tolerate gluten products well. Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity is the official name and is determined after Celiac disease and wheat allergy ruled out. This does not harm the small intestines, but because your body does not digest gluten, it makes you feel sick.

Life with a gluten intolerance.

If you are diagnosed, ask your doctor about products you would not assume to contain gluten. Some ice cream, different syrups and some vitamins contain gluten. Read the ingredients labels of the foods and beverages you consume. Many grocery stores have gluten free labeled products. Just because a label says “wheat free” or “contains no wheat” it does not mean the product is gluten free. Some restaurants like Olive Garden have special menus to cater to people with gluten intolerants and other restaurants offer gluten free substitutions.

If you think you may have a gluten sensitivity ask your doctor to get tested, do not diagnosis yourself. It is best to know exactly what foods you need to avoid. As for those who do not have a gluten allergy or intolerance, gluten free products are not any healthier than regular products so stick to your normal meal.

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