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Why go Gluten Free?

Mary Myers is a resident of Largo, FL who has joined the gluten-free craze. However, she is not one to follow food and diet trends. She has recently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which is a type of gluten intolerance. With all the recent talk about gluten and whether it’s good or bad, I met with Mary to get some facts straight about going gluten-free.

SL: What is gluten? And how does it affect your body?
MM: Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat and many other foods. When I eat gluten, my small intestine swells up, and gluten can’t pass through as easily.

SL: When did gluten start affecting you like that?
MM: It didn’t start until about four months ago. Then I went to the doctor and at first they thought I had Crohn’s Disease, but eventually they discovered it was Celiac Disease.

SL: So, for the sake of all of us who may have some sort of gluten intolerance, what are the main symptoms?
MM: The main symptoms are bloating, nausea, and even vomiting after eating something that contains gluten. If you’re intolerant, you’ll have an overall feeling of wrenched gut.

SL: What are the main foods you need to avoid?
MM: Any bread unless it specifically says “gluten free”, and most pastas and cereals. I also need to keep an eye on what has flours or malt extract or flavoring, and avoid it. I’m still new to this diet, but as far as cereals go, the only one I’ve been able to find that’s gluten free is Chex (every kind except for the wheat, of course).

SL: Why do you think so many people are opting for gluten free foods?
MM: I think most people that are going gluten free or reducing gluten in their diet does it because of doctor recommendations. More people are also discovering that they have sensitivity to gluten and are cutting back on it. There is also medicine available to treat gluten intolerances. It helps break down food, but it can have serious side effects like permanent eye twitches.

Many people have a gluten sensitivity or even Celiac Disease and don’t even realize it. Gluten can be difficult to digest and eating too much of it can lead to an intolerance. Is anyone else going gluten free or cutting back on it? Is it helping or hurting your health?

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