Should I be gluten-free? This is a question I hear often. And one I can’t easily answer.
I think many of us have heard of the auto-immune disorder Celiac disease and the necessity to maintain a gluten-free diet. But what about all those people who say they “feel better” on a gluten-free diet so they must be sensitive to it? The first step is to talk to your doctor about the need to test for Celiac disease.
Science shows that gluten is a high allergen food. As we age, many of us can experience reactions to high allergen foods like soy, seafood, nuts, dairy and gluten. A gluten intolerance often shows up as a ‘pain in the gut’.
Eating a balanced diet, high in fiber and rich in a varitety of nutritient dense foods is essential to good health. This can be done while avoiding gluten, but takes knowledge and diligence. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on a healthy diet many people simply seek to replace a gluten item with a pre-packaged gluten-free substitute which are often high in sugar and other additives. Just because a product is labeled gluten-free, doesn’t make it healthy. You must read the ingredient labels!
If you do not have Celiac disease, you may still feel better avoiding gluten (determined by symptoms receding after avoiding gluten and returning with the re-introduction of gluten). Eating a “clean” or healthy diet will help you develop what Dr. Sears calls wisdom of the body. If you avoid gluten, make sure you are getting your healthy carbohydrates from other sources such as vegetables, fruits and other whole grains that do not contain gluten (for instance rice or potato). Also do some research about where gluten can be found hiding in packaged or prepared foods. For more information on Celiac disease and identifying gluten in foods visit celiac.org.
And for some gluten humor, watch this Jimmy Kimmel Live clip. He takes to the street to ask the LA fitness crowd, “What is gluten?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdJFE1sp4Fw