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What Is Gluten And Why Should You Care?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 6

With all of the health fads out there, the gluten free diet is one that really sticks out to most people. It’s one that really makes sense, considering when folks find out what the diet is about, they quickly realize that is what fast food is based upon. We all know what fast food diet can do to the body.

Really though, it goes well beyond fast food. This sticky little protein has found its way into things like ketchup all the way to beauty products. Once you start reading food and product labels, you start to see how much the word “wheat” will spring up.

What Is Gluten?

The word gluten, is the Latin word for glue and is a protein found primarily in

Waves of Gluten
 wheat and similar grain species, including barley and rye. It is the result of a protein composite combined with starch that naturally occurs in the grain. Because of it’s nutritional value, it is a key ingredient to all of those “fake meats” you see out there for the vegetarian crowd. 

Because of the starch that is bonded with the protein, gluten turns out to be not only be a great thickener, but also a wonder stabilizing agent. That’s the reason you not only find it in gravy and similar foods, but also deli meats, peanut butter (helps keeps the oil from separating) and even shampoo.

Why Should You Care?

I’m sure you’ve heard of celiac disease by now, it is a chronic condition that kicks in when gluten is consumed. The people you don’t hear as much about are the ones with an intolerance / sensitivity to the protein. About 1/20 people in the United States suffers from the sensitivity and about 1/133 suffer from the disease.[1]

Both of these cases, when not treated with diet, can affect localized parts of the body to affecting a person’s overall health. There are so many that are diagnosed with either of these afflictions and they still continue to consume products that contain gluten anyway. Whether it is out of ignorance of what to eat or just not caring, these folks must understand that this is REAL health issue and they are living with a disease!

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects so many parts of the body. Autoimmune, meaning gluten triggers the body’s immune system and then tells it “Hey, I’m the good guy, don’t kill me. But you see everything else around you? It wants to kill you and your host.” It makes your body turn against itself. More so than a group of single 40-something best friend / bridesmaids grabbing for the flung bouquet at a wedding. More than feelings get hurt.

How Do You Know If You Are Part Of That Crowd?

Now, I’m no doctor. Nor did I stay in a Holiday Express last night. I’m just a dude that was diagnosed with having a “slight” sensitivity to gluten around five years ago.

The one true way to know if you have issues with gluten, is to have a biopsy done on your small bowel. Think about that for a minute...... yup, it’s just what you think it is. BUT, there are other ways to know, my friend. A pretty good indicator of what is going on can be derived from a blood test, this is how I found out because the doctor feared Crohn's or this.

With the blood test, they can tell with a good degree certainty if you suffer at all and to what degree. My diagnosis said I had a “slight sensitivity”, but that was kind of an understatement. If I have a doughnut, a tiny ninja with all of his weapons appears in my gut a few hours afterward and then guess where I sit all that night, on the verge of tears.

Here is the easiest of the ways to find out if you have issues...... stop eating gluten. That’s it. The hard parts are understanding exactly what has gluten in it and how much you actually consume it in a day. The other hard part is sticking with it, 100% all day, everyday. After about three weeks you should start to notice a change in the way you feel and the way your body runs.

There are SO many different ways gluten turns the body against itself for me to say, “Well if such and such doesn’t clear up in four weeks, then that isn’t your issue.” or anything of the like. You have to feel for yourself because you know your body the best. Personally, I always had bowel issues (most say the same) and once I FINALLY adhered to the proper diet, I became normal in that depart for the first time I could remember in my life.

No matter what you do, it’s going to be somewhat of a pain to get off gluten. But when it comes to your health, it’s better to go through some “pains” now than have your gall bladder abscess or something much, much worse happen.

To close, I’d like to offer you a fun little YouTube video about this very subject from one of my favorite shows on the net:



Apr 30, 2013 10:51am
great article man. More people are on a gleuten free diet than we think. My aunt HAS to be on one. I dont remember why...
Apr 30, 2013 1:46pm
Thanks Jake!

Sadly yes, there are lots of us that have to be on the gluten free diet. It's a bit of a pain at first, but after a while you get used to it.

Having a sister that makes wonderful GF cupcakes, helps too. :-)
Apr 30, 2013 1:45pm
This comment has been deleted.
Apr 30, 2013 6:45pm
What brand of catsup has gluten in it? I've never seen one.
Apr 30, 2013 10:13pm
I haven't seen it in ketchup in a long time, but generally when I did see it, it was in the store brands.

It's funny, normally Nacho flavored Doritos contain gluten, but when bought from Sam's Club, they are made with out wheat. It's so weird, but as long as I get my Nacho Doritos, I'm happy! :)

It just goes to show, you never know what you will or won't find on a label.
Apr 30, 2013 8:41pm
My mom is a celiac and has to do the gluten-free diet for health reasons. And it's in everything. Just absolute random things you would never expect.
Apr 30, 2013 10:15pm

You end up having to cook a lot for yourself and eat a lot of salads out at restaurants. But hey, I'm down with that. :)
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  1. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse "Celiac Disease." Nation Institutes of Health. 29/04/2013 <Web >

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