If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you’ve likely seen a growing trend in the availability of products touting their “gluten-free” status. You wonder,
“Is this yet another marketing tactic by food manufacturers to lure me into buying these delicious and perhaps healthy cookies, or is there more to it?”
Gluten intolerance, or the more serious Celiac Disease, is indeed, a very real and uncomfortable experience for many. In fact, research shows that it affects approximately 15% of the U.S. population.
While Celiac Disease is a hereditary allergy to gluten that results in damage to the small intestine, there’s not a whole lot of information out there to hypothesize the increased incidence of gluten sensitivity, other than its symptoms being attributed to other ailments that are a direct result of the unhealthy American diet that many partake in.
First things first. What is gluten?
Gluten is a special type of protein that is commonly found in rye, wheat, and barley. Therefore, it is found in most types of cereals and in many types of bread. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape, and often gives the final product a chewy texture. It is important to note, however, that not all foods from the grain family contain gluten. Some grains that do not have gluten include wild rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, oats, soybeans, and sunflower seeds.
Unfortunately, symptoms of gluten sensitivity can be difficult to determine, ranging from nothing to life-threatening. And often, these symptoms are not consistent from person to person, which makes diagnosis a virtual nightmare for medical professionals.
So you ask yourself,
Was it the burrito that I ate for lunch or could I be one of those unlucky (or more likely, uncomfortable) individuals who are sensitive to gluten?