Gluten: What’s the fuss?

Have you noticed the sudden burst of gluten free foods on the market?  Overheard a conversation to the tune of, “Is there gluten in that?” If you aren’t already riding the gluten-free train, one can’t help but ask, “What is the fuss about? Am I gluten sensitive?”

The first question to answer is: What is gluten?  Gluten is a storage protein found in wheat that provides the elastic structure in bread and baked goods allowing them to rise or thicken (think soups and sauces).  Proteins similar to gluten are also found in rye, spelt, oats, and barley.

So, how do you know if you’re sensitive or allergic to gluten? Like all allergies, symptoms and intensity vary from person to person.  Symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, constipation, skin rashes, joint pain and fatigue.  Someone with celiac disease can suffer from debilitating symptoms and over time the inflammatory response suffered damages the small intestine and causes nutrient malabsorption.

Through an elimination diet you can catalog what affect wheat has on you. A dear friend of mine cut gluten out for a month and found her painful (and painfully obvious) rosacea cleared. I cut out gluten and found my energy levels dramatically improved. Admittedly, I occasionally indulge with pizza (Double whammy if you have dairy sensitivity, but that’s another ball game.) But now, I know what the effects are.

In the spirit of “spring cleaning,” I challenge you to clean your body too! For one week eliminate gluten from your diet and log any physical or mental changes you notice. Don’t worry, you won’t starve! To jog your cooking imagination here are some great grains that are gluten free:

  • Rice and rice flours (Brown, white, wild)
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Oats (certified gluten-free is best)

E-mail us using our CONTACT FORM with any great alternatives you come up with, for help on finding gluten free recipies, or just to tell us how your gluten free week went.