Gluten is an ingredient that has moved it’s way into the spotlight over the years, but the problem is that many who follow gluten-free lifestyles don’t understand what gluten actually is, or the role that it plays in food and our bodies. Food fads can be damaging for people that actually have a true reaction, because it can cause those who aren’t fully informed to treat it as a less serious condition. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, recent data has shown that about 1 in 133 Americans have Celiac Disease, and many are undiagnosed. With the prevalence of this disease rising, it is important to understand what Celiac Disease is, how it’s triggered, and treatment options.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley and rye, and often is used in food to provide an elastic and chewy texture (think pizza dough). Celiac Disease is a genetic autoimmune response that happens to the body when it is exposed to gluten. Exposure to gluten causes the body to mistakenly attack itself. Symptoms of Celiac Disease include abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia and fatigue. These symptoms can appear in any person, of any age who has been exposed to gluten. Overtime this negative reaction by the body causes chronic inflammation and damages the villi within the small intestine. These fingerlike structures aid in the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream and when left damaged and untreated, can lead to malnourishment, osteoporosis, diabetes and various autoimmune disorders. No matter how healthy a person eats, the damage to the intestines prevents absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients into the body and the nutritional deficiencies that come as a result of this disease are often the tipping point for other complications to arise.
The only true treatment for Celiac is to adhere to a strictly gluten-free diet and over time sticking with this type of diet can help to heal the intestines from past damage. Some supplements can be helpful in the management of Celiac, in conjunction with gluten-free lifestyle. Probiotics are a great way to build up healthy gut flora, immune system function and aids in absorption of nutrients. Strains such as Saccharomyces boulardii and Lactobacillus casei can be especially helpful for people with Celiac Disease. If someone with this disease is accidentally exposed to gluten, digestive enzymes can be helpful in easing the symptoms. Gluten-Ease by Enzymedica is an enzyme formula that works especially well for targeting discomfort caused by exposure to gluten. Although enzymes can be helpful, they should never be used as an excuse for someone suffering from Celiac to eat gluten freely.
As with any other health issue, each case of Celiac Disease is different depending on the individual. Triggers differ from person to person, but it’s important to adhere to a gluten-free diet as much as possible. Gluten-Free Shopping Guides are available online here and in the store in order to help you make the best decisions for your lifestyle. If you have questions or would like to know more, please stop by Bare Essentials Natural Market and our Wellness Consultants will assist you in finding something most suited to your needs.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.