Gluten sensitivity is becoming increasingly pervasive in the United States and other developed countries. As many as 7-percent of the U.S. population suffers with this diet-related condition and that number is increasing. I know that, as a sufferer of gluten sensitivity myself, it’s an unpleasant condition and one I’m passionate about helping the readers of Days to Fitness understand and avoid.
So, firstly, what is gluten? Gluten is a protein that is present in grains like wheat, oats, barley, rye, bulgur and semolina. This protein is part of what makes these grains sticky when you add water to form a dough – bread from wheat flour for example. Not all grains contain gluten – rice, for example, is gluten free.
Some people have a bad reaction when they eat gluten. This can be as mild and uncomfortable, such as a little bit of bloating, or severe and painful, leading to chronic illness.
Very severe reactions to gluten is normally caused by something called celiac disease. Celiac disease is when the body’s autoimmune system treats gluten as a hostile invader and attacks itself causing systemic inflammation and damage to the intestinal wall. This is a serious medical condition that needs to be treated medically and with a very strict diet.
Gluten sensitivity or, more properly non-celiac disease gluten intolerance, is a common but less severe reaction to gluten. This is best thought of as an allergy.
In this case, gluten triggers an inflammatory response both in the digestive system and throughout the body which produces several symptoms. The number and severity of your symptoms depend on just how sensitive or intolerant you are to gluten but include:
- Gas and bloating
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Inexplicable abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Cravings for baked goods
- Fatigue and weakness
- Anxiety and depression
- Unexplainable weight loss or weight gain
Because gluten sensitivity can cause a host of symptoms that may appear or disappear seemingly at random, it can be hard to diagnose. While there are blood tests that may indicate gluten sensitivity, they are not conclusive and nor are they widely available.
In most instances, identifying and treating a gluten sensitivity is best achieved the same way – by eliminating gluten from your diet. If, after 30 or so days of gluten elimination you feel better than you did before, the chances are good that you have an issue digesting gluten. If, however, you feel much the same, your problems may be caused by something else.
How do you go about eliminating gluten from your diet? You need to replace these high gluten foods with foods that are gluten free. To help you with this, I’ve produced a series of recipes (all here) that are all free from gluten.
I know that giving up gluten isn’t easy because gluten is in so many of the foods we rely on every day. But, trust me, if you ARE gluten sensitive, you’ll soon start feeling and looking much better if you take this crucial step.
If you are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, maybe it’s time for you to consider eliminating gluten from your diet. I’m here to show you how!