February 17, 2016

Confusion about Gluten and Diet

Tim called and asked me to a meeting for a few of us. When I arrived, it was just four of us: Brenda, Sue, Tim, and myself. Tim said this is an exploratory discussion about gluten-free foods. I asked what had prompted this and Sue said that a couple of friends of hers and her husband's were strongly advising eating gluten-free foods for weight loss. Brenda said that she remembered I had blogged about the problems gluten-free foods can cause.

I agreed and asked Tim to do a search on my blogs using the words 'gluten-free' and when he had the short list I suggested this one to start and Brenda agreed that was the one. Sue read it and said it fits with what the friends were promoting.

I asked Tim to keep the search results and open an Internet search for “Gluten-Free is Not a Weight Loss Diet.” There were several in the list, but this article was the one I was looking for and had him open it. Tim skimmed it and then let Sue and Brenda read the article. Sue said this answered her concerns and let her know that she was right in ignoring them and asked Tim to send her the link.

I said I will have a blog about this and I am happy that the issue is back and we could use this for a meeting. Tim said he would like to have this presentation and if Brenda and Jason did not mind, he would do this on February 20.  Brenda told him to go ahead as she and Jason were working on additional material and having their presentation in March would work for them.

Brenda thanked me for having the information as she had looked and did not find my blogs and did not know of the latest article on gluten-free. She said that it definitely is one of the biggest diet fads and she doesn't believe a gluten-free diet will help people lose weight. Brenda said she has seen this in magazines at checkouts and sees some foods claiming to be gluten-free.

The article says that gluten-free is not a weight loss diet. It is an elimination diet specifically intended for the one percent of Americans who have the autoimmune disorder, celiac disease. Celiac disease is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases by doctors. The diet will also help people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Most people don’t even know what gluten is yet they believe it’s as detrimental to their waistline as Twinkies. Gluten is a protein found in many grains like wheat, rye, barley, oats, and triticale. Examples of foods with gluten include pastas, breads and cereals. Gluten has a glue-like effect that holds foods together and helps maintain their shape.

Gluten isn’t bad for you unless you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, where gluten acts an irritant so a gluten-free diet would actually provide relief to the body. A doctor should monitor the diet in order to prevent complications.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, more commonly called gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance, doesn’t cause an immune response towards gluten or damage the intestinal lining. However, people with gluten intolerance have similar symptoms to those with celiac disease, including bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Symptoms can set in a few hours or even days after consuming gluten. Some additional symptoms of this intolerance include non-intestinal symptoms such as headaches, difficulty thinking clearly, joint pain, and numbness in the legs, arms or fingers. Headaches and fatigue are the most common symptoms.

More of my blogs on gluten are here and here.

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