Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thought for Thursday: Gluten Free Diets - A Fad or Fiction?

When I was growing up I never heard anyone say they didn't eat gluten. Heck, I didn't even know what gluten was. But now, nearly all my girlfriends are on some sort of gluten free diet. So, I decided to do a little research to find out what exactly they were talking about.

First I had to find out what gluten was/is.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat.

Then I had to see why it's such a problem wheat is in some of my favorite foods like brea, cookies, cakes, and a whole lot more. And then I read that some practitioners also say oats could be an allergen. OMG!!! that cuts out an entire category of foods - at least in my opinion. So, why would people be willing to give up these yummilicious goodies?

I read further.

Gluten intolerance is associated with Celiac Disease, which is most common in Caucasians and people of European ancestry. And, of course, women are affected more often than men. Thus, the probable reason why most of my friends are on this sort of diet - most of my friends are women.

But then I read that the symptomology can be hard to pin down because gluten intolerance can present different symptoms for different people. So some of my friends might even be gluten intolerant and not even know it.

But - in general - here is a list of problems associated with the disease known as celiac disease which damages the lining of the small intestine:

A person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food he or she eats.

People with celiac disease are more likely to have:

Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Sjogren syndrome, Addison's disease, Down syndrome, Intestinal cancer, Intestinal lymphoma, Lactose intolerance, Thyroid disease, and Type 1 diabetes.

I had no idea it could wreck such havoc on a person.

I wanted to find out what the common problems are. I read that they are gastrointestinal. Some of the signs are:

Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, or indigestion,

Constipation,

Decreased appetite but it might also be increased or unchanged

Diarrhea, either constant or off and on

Lactose intolerance

Nausea and vomiting

Stools that float, are foul smelling, bloody, or “fatty”

Unexplained weight loss (although people can be overweight or of normal weight)

And, if left untreated, the following symptoms may appear over time:

Bruising easily

Depression or anxiety

Fatigue

Growth delay in children

Hair loss

Itchy skin (dermatitis herpetiformis)

Missed menstrual periods

Mouth ulcers

Muscle cramps and joint pain

Nosebleeds

Seizures

Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

Unexplained short height

Only 1 in 133 Americans suffer from gluten intolerance but it is difficult to diagnose so some people might misdiagnose themselves.

I thought WOW!!! this is one disease I barely knew anything about.

I thought it was on the increase due to stress or some other common concern with our modern day lives but I had no idea of all the consequences.

3 comments:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Meh. I think gluten is just the latest whipping boy in a whole series of them...anything taken in excess will cause problems.

Jen on the Edge said...

One of my aunts has celiac and her health has improved greatly since she went off gluten. The poor thing is also allergic to chocolate, which to me would make life not worth living, but she's found other yummy things to eat instead.

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