Gluten-FREE is a very hot trend in the food industry. Many customers check food packaging for a gluten-free promise, but ironically don’t know what that promise really delivers. Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t email firstname.lastname@example.org asking about gluten consumption.
So let’s start at the very beginning.
What the heck is gluten anyway?
Gluten is a mixture of two proteins and is present in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Think of it as a glue-like substance found in most pastas, breads, cereals and cakes. Gluten helps food to stay together and maintain it’s shape. It serves as a binding agent for dough and gives baked goods a moist and fluffy texture. Essential in helping bread rise, gluten also helps it stay that way after it’s been baked.
One wishing to avoid gluten must assume it’s hiding in places they would least expect: ice cream, deli meats and cheeses, condiments and even some medications! Since it’s a binding agent, companies often use it for ease of production.
What does it do to people?
More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten, including some big boys like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and intestinal cancer. But the condition most associated with gluten is celiac disease, as the one and only treatment is a gluten-free lifestyle. When people with celiac ingest gluten, it causes a reaction in the small intestine. Over time, this reaction produces inflammation that damages the small intestine lining and prevents absorption of nutrients.
According to beyondceliac.org, 1 in 133 people suffer from celiac disease, and 83% of those people are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. The symptoms vary in children and adults. Kids with celiac disease can have gastrointestinal issues, weight loss, behavioral issues and delayed growth. Only 1/3 of adults with the disease suffer gastrointestinal distress. Other adult symptoms can include iron deficiency, joint pain, arthritis, depression, infertility, mouth sores and itchy skin.
Even more common than celiac disease is gluten sensitivity. It’s estimated that 18 million Americans suffer from gluten sensitivity, making it 6 times more common than celiac itself. The symptoms can mimic those of celiac, and the only real treatment is 100% elimination of gluten from the diet. Even trace amounts are enough to cause a immune reaction in the body.
Living Gluten Free
It’s not as hard as one might think! The easiest way to stay gluten-free is to simply follow a paleo lifestyle. There is no gluten in meat, vegetables, nuts, fruits and healthy fats.
All grocery stores have gluten-free options, and most restaurants feature gluten-free entrees. If you are eating out and don’t see gluten-free options, you can ask for any grilled meats, seafoods and vegetables and know that you are safe from ingesting the g-word.
You don’t have to give up your favorites when you give up the gluten. A Google search will bring up millions of gluten free options including breads, bagels, pastas and baked goods. Most of your heart’s desire can be delivered to your door in just a few clicks. All of the products at stevespaleogoods.com are gluten free, so you can feel safe stocking them for delicious convenience options.