One of the most common eating concerns I hear is about gluten intolerance and food sensitivities. Many people are learning that common foods, including wheat, rye, barley, as well as any foods made with these grains can create a toxic reaction in a sensitive person.
So how do you know if you are one of those people? And, once diagnosed, what can you do about it? Education is the answer. Learn all you can and be sure that they are from credentialed sources as the friend down the street may have an incomplete understanding and pass that on. You have two needs, one is medical and the other is how to figure out what you CAN eat.
We are featuring two classes in July and August on Gluten Free Living: The Basics and Gluten Free Desserts from Shawnte Yates of Whole Foods Markets. You can’t ask for a better set of classes! Your challenge is to prepare yummy foods and not feel deprived – and we can help you! Shawnte is a medical student at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and she is very knowledgeable about this condition. Shawnte has prepared awesome materials for this class – here are some things that I learned from her.
What is gluten anyway? It is the insoluble protein piece in wheat and other grains that gives dough its tough elastic character. How do you know if you are sensitive? You will have unpleasant GI symptoms (diarrhea, constipation, gas/bloating). Perhaps as many as 1 in 56 people have this symptom. Our cave ancestors never ate gluten – it was part of the earliest agrarian revolution when people first began to raise crops. Eating grain products is a more modern diet so not everyone has the body action to break down gluten.
Gluten intolerance has its highest prevalence in people of western European descent and women are 3 times as likely to be diagnosed with gluten intolerance; up to 5% of these may have Celiac Disease. Some people are not only gluten intolerant, they also have Celiac Disease, which is an autoimmune disorder in which the body responds so negatively to gluten it is damaging.
How do you know if you are just intolerant or have celiac disease? You cannot, based on symptoms alone. So, gluten sensitivity is used to describe people who feel better when they are gluten free but whose laboratory results do not fit them into Celiac Disease. Try eliminating gluten for a few weeks and see how you feel, that will put you on the road to learn more!