The term ‘gluten’ comes from the same root word as ‘glue’. This is  no surprise, since gluten is a sticky substance found in many grains that makes baked goods such as bagels and bread stick together.

Choosing to eat a Gluten Free Diet is becoming quite the rage! Although this phrase may have a ‘jump on the band wagon’ demeanor, there are many reasons why choosing ‘Gluten Free’ is a great choice. The term Gluten sensitive, is used as an overall umbrella which may apply to a whole spectrum of sensitivities and preferences.

There are those individuals who have true Celiac Disease. These individuals have a genetic disturbance that interferes with their ability to digest gluten, a substance that is in many grains, including wheat , barley and rye. When people with celiac disease consume even a very small amount of gluten, it stimulates an autoimmune response which triggers their immune system to attack their gastrointestinal tract, causing a myriad of symptoms that can range from annoying to deadly.  The Center for Celiac Research & Treatment in Boston estimates that one in every 133 people have celiac disease. Another group of individuals are Gluten sensitive. They may also experience symptoms after ingesting gluten containing foods, but the condition is less severe, not life threatening and can often be ‘grown out of’ if the person stops ingesting gluten for a period of time. Then there are those people who are ‘wheat sensitive’. They may not feel well after eating a bagel for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner- which is actually quite common for those who eat
S.A.D. – the Standard American Diet. Conventional medical thought often states that the increase in diagnosis of all of these sensitivities is strictly due to better testing methods and an increased awareness of this syndrome. However there is scientific data to dispute this notion. For example, in the 1950’s blood samples from Air Force recruits were frozen , and were recently tested for wheat sensitivities. This test discovered that there is a 4 time higher prevalence of negative reactions to wheat today than 50 years ago. Reasons for this may include increased consumption of processed food, as well as a vast difference in the species of wheat that is grown today. Modern wheat has been tailored to grow more quickly and to allow for mechanical harvesting. Older varieties were taller and had much deeper root systems , higher nutritional values, and lower gluten levels . Baked goods were prepared with whole food ingredients, instead of the ‘chemical soup’ of preservatives, dough conditioners, and a host of other additives used in commercially prepared foods today.

The FDA has created specific guidelines to allow for a GLUTEN FREE claim to be made. The product must be laboratory tested and must be proven of have less than 20 ppm( parts per million) of gluten, in order to have a GLUTEN FREE label.  This amount is low enough to avoid any kind of reaction in most individuals, although true Celiacs may wish to be even stricter and avoid all foods that may potentially have ANY gluten at all.

Almost EVERYONE feels better once they eliminate wheat and  gluten, with most reporting that they loose their ‘wheat belly’, experience increased energy and clearer thinking, sleep better and wake up more refreshed.  Also, as with most natural lifestyle interventions, there is absolutely NO ADVERSE effect to give gluten free eating a try!