The word gluten originates from a Latin word meaning glue, so in actuality, gluten is the "glue" which holds foods together. It gives bread its shape and texture, thickens soups and stews. The main sources of gluten are wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found in a wide variety of foods which makes it difficult to avoid. However, it is not altogether impossible.
Gluten is the main cause of celiac disease. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine. When a person with Celiac Disease consumes products containing gluten, the body treats gluten as a foreign invader. The fibers of the small intestine which are responsible for absorbing the nutrients are attacked. Therefore, the body is unable to absorb any nutrients resulting in malnutrition.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, this disease affects about one of every 100 people worldwide. Celiac disease not only affects the digestive system. If conditions are not treated, it can evolve into other problems such as Type I diabetes, anemia, migraine headaches, and epilepsy.
Celiac disease is not the only worry that comes with eating gluten. Gluten sensitivity can cause almost as much trouble as full-blown celiac disease. Symptoms include diarrhea, painful bones and joints, bloating, stomach ache and fatigue. It is possible to have gluten sensitivity and not be medically diagnosed with celiac disease.
Consuming gluten can lead to impaired neurological activity. In fact, there is a neurological disorder associated with consuming gluten called cerebellar ataxia, which impairs the part of the brain responsible for coordinating motor control. In addition, gluten can also lead to autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, all which can be improved by decreasing gluten consumption.
Obviously eliminating bread is the best way of avoiding gluten. However, gluten is in just about every food product from salad dressing to soy sauce. It is not impossible to avoid gluten. Stick to vegetables and fruits. A great way of getting these foods into the diet is by juicing. Select juices that have green vegetables and fruits as their only ingredients. In addition to more fruits and vegetables, choose lean cuts of meat such as beef and poultry which are also excellent gluten-free choices. Avoid ground beef as there are loaded with fillers, which contains gluten. One bad thing about adopting a gluten-free diet is the lack of vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin B and fibre.
A great way to solve this problem is by replacing pasta with gluten-free, nutrient rich grains like quinoa, amaranth and brown rice. In addition to being gluten-free these grains are packed with protein, iron and fibre.
Testing for Celiac Disease is easy. Anyone who suspects the presence of Celiac Disease should get tested as soon as possible so as not to worsen the condition. Here are the different types of tests for Celiac Disease.
•IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
•IgG anti-gliadin antibodies
•IgA anti-endomysial antibodies
•Tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA and IgG in questionable cases)
•Total IgA antibodies
• HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genotyping for celiac disease (used occasionally to detect genetic susceptibility).
•Intestinal biopsy (rarely needed if gluten antibodies are positive-based on my interpretation of the recent study)