My opinion about food is constantly being shaped and formed. Three years ago, I discovered that I had a sensitivity to gluten, so I adopted a gluten-free diet with hopes of relieving my symptoms. To my great delight, the symptoms subsided and I was feeling better than ever and I have kept away from gluten ever since. For those who may not know, there is a big difference between being gluten sensitive and having Celiac disease. In both cases, gluten is the enemy but for the small percentage of the population who have Celiac disease, it can be life threatening if it is ingested. In a way, gluten sensitivity is another way of saying “food allergy.” Many people have mixed opinions on the subject and trust me, I’ve heard a wide range of them. I ignore those with negative opinions and educate those who do not quite understand what it is.
There is a wide range of symptoms that are related to gluten sensitivity. Currently I am re-reading the book, South Beach Diet: Gluten Solution, by Dr. Arthur Agatston. He has comprised a list of these symptoms which I would like to share with you: bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, stomach cramps, unusual fatigue, waking up with stiff joints, foggy mental focus, depression, skin rashes, excess mucus, or sinus problems. As you can see, these are a very wide range of symptoms. Dr. Agatston writes that if you are experience just one of these symptoms, you could be gluten sensitive. He estimates that about 50% of Americans are gluten sensitive. This is an incredible statistic and this is why I feel the need to share this information with you.
The way that wheat is being processed today is the cause for this gluten-sensitive epidemic. It is being ground down to the point where there is no longer any nutritive or fibrous substance to it. Gluten is a wheat protein that has great binding capabilities, and this is why it is in a multitude of products. Before I knew this, I always wondered why there would be gluten in products that don’t need wheat as an ingredient.
I am sharing this information to you with the best intentions. I do not want to scare anyone into thinking they are gluten intolerant and that they need to avoid it forever. I also want to add that a person who is “gluten-free” is not necessarily healthier than someone who is not. Gluten-free manufactured products seem to contain a higher amount of sugar to compensate for the different taste from the flours used. This is why I stay away from those products as well.
Thinking about trying a gluten-free diet? Go for it! If not, I challenge you to rid your diet of processed, pre-packaged “foods” and replace them with fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Give it two weeks – 6 weeks and I promise you will notice a difference in how you feel. I recommend reading Dr. Agatston’s book if you want to learn more about gluten and how to tell if you are sensitive to it!
“Great things are done by a series of small things put together.” – Vincent Van Goh