Hi Ellipse Family! This week we have a special guest blog post from MedAlertHelp.org, and they have a fantastic infographic you can find here! https://medalerthelp.org/gluten-free-life-infographic/
When we were children, we all worried about the boogeyman under the bed. As adults, that boogeyman has moved into our kitchens. Today the monster that everyone fears sits in the food aisles of supermarkets—gluten.
If you want to get a roomful of health-conscious people to run off screaming, there is no better way than to pull out food with gluten in it! Over the last few years, gluten has become public enemy number one.
But is that really fair? Is gluten the bad guy? In this post, we will answer that question.
Celiac disease is a serious illness. The body is unable to process gluten in food. The body, in this case, has a strong reaction to even small amounts of gluten. People with this condition have no choice but to avoid it.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
This disease is less common than you think. Only 1% of the American population has celiac disease. We will go through the symptoms you might experience in a short while.
For now, though, we must stress—there is no room here for self-diagnosis. If you believe that you have celiac disease, go to your doctor for a proper diagnosis. As you will see, the symptoms listed can be caused by a wide range of ailments. Do not just rely on Dr. Google for this one—see a professional.
● Diarrhea: Expect stools to come out loose and very watery. That naturally happens after eating and is one of the most common symptoms. What distinguishes this diarrhea from other forms is that it is ongoing. So, the occasional bout is not a big deal. If you are
battling diarrhea daily, seek help.
● Bloating: Bloating is another common symptom. Do not take this as a definitive symptom. Gluten can cause bloating in healthy people as well.
● Gas: Again, this is another common symptom. With celiac disease, the body cannot process gluten. As it moves through the digestive tract, it starts to ferment. That, in turn, produces gas.
● Fatigue: Because your body is unable to digest a large portion of the food you are eating, you are bound to feel fatigued. Your body needs to digest the food so it can absorb the right vitamins and minerals and produce energy.
● Weight Loss: By this we mean a sudden drop in weight when you have done nothing to cause it. If that is coupled with the inability to gain weight, see a doctor. That is a sign that something is wrong. It could be celiac disease or even diabetes.
● Anemia: Celiac disease interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, resulting in vitamin deficiencies, particularly iron deficiencies. It is best to see your doctor before taking a supplement. Iron overload can be as dangerous as iron deficiency.
● Constipation: Remember how we said that the disease affects the digestive tract? It is not as common as diarrhea, but constipation may be another warning sign. That is because the disease damages the villi in the digestive tract. It is also possible for the body to absorb more moisture to make up for the lack of nutrients. That leads to a stool that is hard and dry, which further leads to constipation.
● Depression: Depression is another common symptom. It makes sense—if you feel sick for a long time, with no clearly defined cause, it can be frustrating. Another factor is that a diagnosis means no more gluten, and it is easy for people to become disheartened.
● A Rash: This rash is characterized by extremely itchy blisters that typically form on the buttocks, knees, or elbows. Fortunately, it is not a common symptom. However, it is a symptom that usually screams, “celiac disease.” Sufferers with the rash are usually diagnosed faster.
There is a small percentage of the population with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Up to 6% of the global population might have this form of intolerance. The symptoms are similar to those listed above but in a much milder form. Gluten does not make people feel sick, but rather uncomfortable.
Should I Cut Out Gluten from My Diet?
This is where we start to cross over into dodgy health advice. We have seen many gurus promoting a gluten-free lifestyle as the way forward. And, after all, why not? Gluten-free is the flavor of the day, and they need to sell their books and products.
What concerns us is that healthy people are cutting out gluten completely. Before we go into the health implications, consider how difficult this is. Wheat is one of the big five to avoid because of
Now, do yourself a favor and check out various items on the shelves at the grocery store. How many contain wheat or flour? Unless the type of flour is specified, it is going to be wheat-based.
You will find it in just about every kind of processed food out there. It is an excellent thickening and bulking agent.
In this day and age, we are all for cutting out processed foods. In fact, if going gluten-free gives you the determination to do that, then it is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, big business has found
a winner in the gluten-free market, and that is where the problem lies.
It is time for another trip to the grocery store. Check out the other ingredients in those gluten-free products. Food manufacturers have to bulk them up and make them taste good. So, what do they add? Sugar and fat.
Now, here is another question. A glass of water with three teaspoons of sugar and a dollop of lard in it is gluten-free. Would you drink it? But, make a biscuit out of it, and you would probably eat it.
Even if you completely avoid processed gluten-free products, you can harm your health by cutting out gluten. If you are not sensitive to it, it provides essential protein and nutrients for your body. Oats, for example, are highly nutritious. How many of us grew up eating Weetabix every morning?
We are concerned when big business gets in on a health fad. Before you buy into the hype, ask yourself: is this person or company trying to sell me something?
Now think of something else.
As a child, did you eat oats, wheat, and so on? Did it kill you or make you sick? If you are like most of us, the answer is no.
Our advice is to keep a food diary and monitor your symptoms. Then, if you feel that something is amiss, see your doctor. A health professional will be able to confirm or deny your suspicions.
Until then, chow down on your oatmeal and bread.
DR. NIKOLA DJORDJEVIC, MD
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD, is a practicing physician who is the Co-Founder and Project Manager of MedAlertHelp.org, a site dedicated to improving your knowledge about health, nutrition, fitness, aging, retirement, and much more. He leads a remarkable team of medical writers, medical alert reviewers, and experts in the realms of life insurance, retirement, and marketing devoted to saving your time and simplifying the process of finding the perfect solutions for everyone.