There’s no quicker way to get an eye-roll from a waiter than to ask for a gluten-free menu these days. Is going gluten-free a fad or a dietary necessity? You can’t go anywhere these days without hearing about another celebrity-gone-Paleo or a new blog, cookbook or website devoted to a gluten-free lifestyle. In fact, a new grain-free cookbook, Against All Grain, is currently one of Amazon’s best sellers (and a favorite of mine). It’s even struggling to keep inventory in stock! We’re giving one away at the bottom of this post…so keep reading! According to a recent poll by the NPD Group (you can read about it on Huffington Post), 30% of American adults are trying to follow a gluten-free diet. Even food manufacturers are getting on the band-wagon – labeling foods that you wouldn’t think had gluten in them to begin with, like potato chips, yogurt and pickles.
Why Gluten-Free? Gluten-free, paleo and grain-free diets are popular, and their popularity keeps growing. But why is the diet sticking around? It’s probably because thousands of people are experiencing profound health changes by removing gluten from their diet. They’re losing weight and strange health maladies like eczema and migraines are disappearing! The truth is many people are gluten-intolerant or sensitive and might not know it. Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in all grains. It’s composed of two subfractions: prolamines and glutelins. Prolamines are most studied because of their relation to Celiac Disease. According to Dr. Peter Osborne of the Gluten Free Society, there are over 200 medical conditions that have been linked to those with gluten sensitivity. Only one of those conditions is Celiac Disease – an adverse immune response following consumption of gluten or gliadin, which causes villous atrophy in the intestine. It is said that 1 in 100 have Celiac disease throughout the world today. That number may sound large, but believe it or not, Celiac is one of the more rare conditions affected by gluten.
Besides Celiac, some of the symptoms and medical conditions linked to gluten-sensitivity include:
- Abdominal pain
- Skin conditions like Eczema or Psoriasis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Headache, Migraine
- Foggy brain
- Joint pain
- Numbness in the extremities
- Unexplained infertility
- Bone loss
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Thyroid Disease
Sometimes your symptoms may not include those above. I, for one, would suffer from a lot of mucous after eating wheat – same thing with my dad. Twenty minutes after a meal and we would start clearing our throat and coughing. What is happening is the mucous is coating the offending allergenic substance, preventing its absorption and facilitating safe elimination through the gastrointestinal tract.
So how do you know if you have a sensitivity to gluten? There is a blood test that can determine if you have Celiac disease, albeit somewhat untrustworthy since it can produce false-negatives, as well as an invasive intestinal biopsy. But if you really want a cheap, easy way to determine if gluten is your poison, just eliminate it from your diet for at least 3 weeks. Then, slowly reintroduce the food and monitor how you feel. Ask yourself if any of the above symptoms (or other unique reactions) occurred when you added it back in. Do you feel bloated after you eat a meal of breads, pasta or cereal? Do you have to unbutton your pants after eating? You may have a gluten-sensitivity.
I went on vacation last summer and strayed from my gluten-free diet. I enjoyed a true Southern biscuit, half of my daughter’s pancake, a roll with dinner and perhaps ingested some hidden gluten. That small amount was enough to cause tummy troubles, a cough, a few extra pounds and a strange case of eczema on my neck. I truly suffer from the effects of gluten – no expensive doctor’s office visit required.
My favorite, new cookbook is from Danielle Walker, called Against All Grain. I love her grain-free and dairy-free recipes for granola bars, blueberry waffles and our new fave Zucchini Noodles! One lucky person will win this fantastic cookbook with more than 150 amazing recipes! We’ll draw the winner on Monday, April 28, 2014.
Our giveaway has ended. Congrats to our winner!
ENTER BELOW TO WIN!
1. Sign in to the widget below with either your Facebook account or your email address.
2. You will see 5 options for entering, with a scroll bar at the bottom of the box.
3. Choose how you want to enter: “Like” us on Facebook, answer a question, tweet about the contest, etc.
4. For each of these things that you do, you will be entered to win. So if you do 4 of them, you will be entered 4 times.
Good luck! Contest ends Monday, April 28 at 8:00pm.
Have you found an improvement in your health by removing gluten? Please share your story and let us know. See our post next week on the right and wrong way to go gluten free.