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Dr. Scott Mindel

Dr. Scott Mindel

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Dr. Julie Sutton

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Your Guide to Being Gluten-Free
Your Guide to Being Gluten-Free

With Seafair 2015 and other festivities right around the corner, the only thing that goes perfectly with these scorching midsummer days is an ice cold-beer in the afternoon sun. If you, or your friends are gluten free, however, you might have to make some accommodations for those who have celiac disease. Recent studies have shown that around 30% of Americans try to avoid eating gluten, whether to avoid an allergic reaction, or simply to improve their health.

And while the benefits of being gluten-free are heavily debated by scientists and health professionals, those who refrain from eating gluten frequently attest to feeling lighter and more alert, and to losing weight. Here is you guide to the debate on eating gluten-free, and how to accommodate your friends and family who will have to pass up any kind of beverage with processed grains.

What is Gluten? Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. There are two main components of gluten; glutenin and gliadin. It is gliadin that causes allergic reactions, like irritation of the digestive tract because the body cannot properly digest the protein, therefore causing serious digestive problems. Commonly, most people who have celiac disease will fail to recognize these symptoms as being characteristic of the disease, and will go undiagnosed. Some tell-tale signs of gluten sensitivity include chronic fatigue, headaches, and diarrhea.

Why are gluten-free diets suddenly becoming so popular? Due to a recent increase in awareness about how to recognize celiac disease, professionals have been better equipped to diagnose and treat their patients for gluten-sensitivities. Also becoming popular is the increase in consumers who claim that a gluten-free diet has numerous health benefits like boosting energy or losing weight or even treating autism. However, there is no evidence that a diet without gluten can be cause for these improvements, and some experts say you may even be wasting your money to buy expensive gluten-free products. If you plan on trying this diet, you will need to come up with other sources of fiber, since whole grains like wheat and barley are fortified with B Vitamins, which are essential for development. Consider taking a folic acid supplement to substitute these vitamins. You’ll need to make an effort to eat foods like brown rice, quinoa, fruits, vegetables and legumes to make up for the fiber that you’ll be missing from wheat and oats.

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