Gluten-Free, Why All the Buzz?
What could chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes possibly have in common? According to a review paper in The New England Journal of Medicine, the development of these diseases and over 50 more could be linked to gluten consumption. It is no surprise to Dr. Mark Hyman, physician and founder of the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Dr. Hyman states that gluten can cause serious health complications even if one does not have full blown celiac disease (CD). It is estimated that 3 million of Americans have been diagnosed with CD. While milder degrees of gluten sensitivity exist possibly affecting up to one-third of the American population and of those people an estimated 99 percent who have gluten sensitivities are unaware of it.
But what exactly is gluten, and how can it affect a person’s health? Gluten is a complex protein composite created when groups of proteins known as prolamins are hydrated and combined together. It exists in various grains like wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, oats and triticale. Its molecular shape and complexity are what give it a somewhat unique property that resembles glue, hence its name in Latin meaning “glue”. Gluten’s glue-like stickiness and viscosity allows gas to become trapped in dough when yeast is added to bread and provides for a tough, chewable texture to foods like breads, pastas and mock meats. It is often used as a food additive, a binder or filler and is hidden in most processed foods. Pizza, pasta, breads, cereals, wraps, rolls, imitation meats, soy sauce, soups, gravy mixes, vinegar, salt and even flavored tea or coffee are just a few examples of foods that may contain gluten.
Having become integrated widespread throughout our food system, it is estimated that the Standard American Diet consists of roughly 10-40 grams of gluten per day. Unfortunately, gluten’s complex property is also what makes it difficult to properly digest. It is this inability to completely break down gluten which can lead to an imbalance of micro-flora, irritation and damage to the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract and inevitably the development of a serious condition known as leaky gut syndrome. This can lead to an increased risk of developing a variety of health conditions linked to the malabsorption of nutrients, a compromised immune system and the damaging effects of autoimmune reactions that can affect all organ systems including your liver, heart, joints and even your brain. This explains why some doctors believe there is evidence showing that it is possible for gluten to be an underlying cause behind many different diseases, and why symptoms of celiac disease or any degree of gluten sensitivity can vary extensively from: mere abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, fatigue, weigh loss/gain, anemia, joint pain and even neurological symptoms.
With a number of medications available for the many different symptoms associated with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities, to truly correct the disease, the best and most effective action is to address the underlying cause and adopt a gluten-free lifestyle. Sound too overwhelming? With gluten commonly found in many processed foods at conventional supermarkets, Fresh & Natural Foods makes it convenient for those wishing to follow a gluten-free diet and lifestyle. We specialize in carrying allergen-friendly foods and educate our staff to be familiar with gluten-free products, making the transition stress-free and easier to find what taste good. These items are easily identified throughout the store with our red arrow making it easier for you to shop for gluten- free alternatives ranging anywhere from pizzas, breads, pastas, and cereals to health and body care products.