Why Gluten Free?

Just another extreme eating style?
Over the last year or so I  have heard the term 'gluten free' begin to enter the marketplace.  For the most part, I viewed it as a fad and an extreme eating lifestyle.  Because of this I never took the time to look any further into it.  Recently that changed when my nephew, who has suffered with extreme outbreaks of psoriasis, was diagnosed with a wheat allergy.  Long story short, it didn't take long before I realized that I needed to be learning more about gluten intolerances, not only for my nephew but for my family as well.  Gluten intolerances are genetic and according to one article I read, an estimated 99 percent of people who have a sensitivity with eating gluten don't even know it.  Although my main reason for my switch is my love of the new ingredients with strong nutritional values, I did realized how differently everyone's body reacts and began connecting the symptoms with concerns found within my own family's health.

What is it?
Before I proceed I'm going to preface this with "I am not an expert".  This is comes only from my understanding from the research I've done on gluten sensitivities. Gluten sensitivity causes the body to react with inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects that can show symptoms in different organ systems such as your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract, and more. It can be the single cause behind many different "diseases".  According to recently published medical studies, you don't have to have full-blown celiac disease with a positive intestinal biopsy (which is what conventional thinking tells us) to have serious health problems and complications from eating gluten.

Identifying Symptoms.
The following is information found in The New England Journal of Medicine which listed 55 "diseases" that can be caused by eating gluten.  These include: osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, cancer, fatigue, canker sores, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, almost all other autoimmune diseases (such as eczema/dermatitis, psoriasis, crone's disease and more), anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines , epilepsy, neuropathy (nerve damage) and autism.
Other symptoms that have claims to gluten sensitivity are: thyroid disease, fatigue, ADD/HD, weight gain, dental enamel defects, infertility, alopecia areata (hair loss), multiple sclerosis (MS) and vitamin deficiencies. 

That doesn't mean that ALL cases displaying these symptoms are caused by gluten.  It does mean that if you have any long lasting or recurring symptoms found within this list, you need to consider gluten sensitivity a possiblity.

Final Note.
I have personally enjoyed switching over to gluten free cooking.  I have always been an advocate of using a variety of foods to obtain a larger spread of different nutrients.  This journey is teaching me how to incorporate different flours and cooking styles to enhance our nutritional experience.  To help you in your journey, should you chose to go this direction, here are a few notes that I hope will help you along the way.
  • Just because it is gluten free doesn't mean it is healthy for you.  In today's commercialized market you will still have access to foods that although may be gluten free, they lack nutrients.   Learn about the nutritional values of different gluten free flours available and the ingredients in pre-boxed foods.  Read your labels. Try to limit your intake of non-nutrient rich ingredients, junk food and sweets.  Instead, strive to lean more towards whole food, fruits and veggies. 
  • Watch your fiber.  Some gluten-free foods tend to be lower in fiber.  By consuming mostly whole foods-fruits and vegetables- this will not be an issue.
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