Perhaps it’s just because I live in LA, but it seems like everyone and their dog is going gluten free. Even though I took nutrition classes in college, I admittedly don’t know much about gluten other than everything comes gluten free nowadays. Turns out I’m not alone. If you skim through the video, you’ll get a good laugh at the many people who are devout to their gluten free lifestyles and don’t even know what they’re avoiding. But hey, this is LA and we’re a little nuttier than the rest of America.
So what is Gluten?
Depending on who you ask gluten is synonymous with death, but it’s actually a protein. Or rather it’s a combination of two different proteins: gliadin and glutenin. Gluten acts as a glue, and helps food hold their shape.
Where is Gluten found?
Gluten is found in the plant’s endosperm. The endosperm is a tissue produced by plants that surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition. We grind wheat endosperm into flour to create yummy breads and pastas. Gluten is not only found in wheat, however, its also found in rye, barley, and triticale.
Since you’re probably not looking for the gluten right off of the plant, you’re more likely to run into at the grocery store in items including:
- baked goods
- salad dressings
- malt/malt vinegar
- food coloring
- malt vinegar
Or you know… just all the good stuff.
So is gluten bad for you?
While most of those items aren’t exactly the healthiest, gluten itself isn’t the worst for you. Gluten is a serious problem for those with celiac disease or those who suffer from a gluten sensitivity. For those who suffer from these conditions, even in taking a small amount of gluten can be severe.
For those of us who are lucky enough to be free from these conditions, however, going gluten free might not magically solve all of our health problems.
“People who are sensitive to gluten may feel better, but a larger portion will derive no significant benefit from the practice. They’ll simply waste their money, because these products are expensive,” claims Dr. Leffler an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
When you should go gluten free:
Perhaps you really are one of the unlucky ones who experience a gluten intolerance, but before you start up a gluten free diet, you should go get yourself checked out by the doc. As great as web MD is you’ll want the real doc to help you plan out a healthy gluten free diet. If you think you’re experiencing these symptoms, you might want to get yourself checked out.
Common symptoms found in adults:
- unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
- bone or joint pain
- bone loss or osteoporosis
- depression or anxiety
- tingling numbness in the hands and feet
- seizures or migraines
- missed menstrual periods
- infertility or recurrent miscarriage
- canker sores inside the mouth
- an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis
And if you’re worried about a little one, common symptoms found in children:
- abdominal bloating and pain
- chronic diarrhea
- pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
- weight loss
- irritability and behavioral issues
- dental enamel defects of the permanent teeth
- delayed growth and puberty
- short stature
- failure to thrive
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
For more resources on celiac disease check out our links below: