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Who should try a gluten-free diet?

By December 4, 2008 - 10:57am
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I am hearing more about gluten-free diets, and about diets where people give up all white things -- flour, sugar, etc. What is the difference? Who do they help?

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I buy a brand by NuNaturals called NuStevia, I use the powder version (12oz jars) but there is also liquid and small packets. My local healthfood story carries it in this area (Mother's Market) but I am sure you can order it directly from the company at www.nunaturals.com or by phone 800-753-4372. Do you have a Whole Foods Market near you? They may carry it too.

December 5, 2008 - 11:13pm
HERWriter Guide

Virginia - we have talked about stevia several times on Empowher. Where can I get it? Would it be at a regular grocery store? And how is it sold - loosely, or in packages or little packets?

Is it safe?

December 5, 2008 - 2:46pm

As SusanC described, gluten-free diets are recommended for individuals who have been diagnosed Celiac Disease due to intolerance to proteins contained in wheat, semolin, barley, rye, etc. Collectively these proteins are known as prolamins. Promalins are what cause problems for people who can't tolerate gluten in their diet.

Unfortunately there are many people who go through life undiagnosed for gluten intolerance or gluten allergy because they experience very subtle symptoms. Celiac Disease is the extreme and easier to diagnose as symptoms are very severe. Most gluten allergies may go on and on for a life time undiagnosed.

One way to know if you are sensitive to gluten is to eliminate it all together from your diet and see if symptoms such as migranes, stomach upsets, lack of energy, weight gain, etc disappear. After a month or so of maintaining a gluten free diet, you may notice also weight loss, more energy and other symptoms disappear such as migranes. You can introduce gluten slowly and if symptoms return, then you will know for sure you body does not like gluten.

White flour is chemically processed and the result is highly processed product (alias "enriched wheat flour" or "wheat flour") which is missing the two most nutritious and fiber-rich parts of the seed: the outside bran layer and the germ (embryo).

A diet of refined foods leaves many women malnourished, constipated, enervated and vulnerable to chronic illness. Popping fiber, vitamins and mineral supplements, in the hope of compensating for what's missing from our diet, will not work. For just as "enriching" refined flour with spray-on nutrients can't make up for those lost during refining, this statement is supported by many health experts.

In regards to white sugar, not only it is bad for teeth, but the consumption of white sugar has more, far reaching consequences. The metabolism of sugar requires accessory nutrients which are involved in its combustion, including vitamins, minerals and even some protein and fat molecules. These elements are depleted by the consumption of refined sugar. Eating white sugar depletes the supply of vitamins and minerals and eventually those nutrients must be pulled from tissues in the body in order to continue support of the metabolic activities fueled by sugar. Most people are aware of the weight gained consumption of quantities of refined sugar but lack the understanding that it can result in the body becoming increasingly deficient in important nutrients. In some cases only a limited amount of the sugar is burned since one feels too tired to be very active. Without the desire for exercise, much of the sugar is stored away as fat resulting in obesity.

For people with a sweet tooth, I highly recommend replacing your sugar consumption with a natural alternative called STEVIA. This is a derivative of a plant from South America. I use it all the time for baking or as a sweetener. It is more powerful than sugar so I only need a 1/4 teaspoon for example while I would need 2tsp of white sugar.

December 4, 2008 - 10:44pm
HERWriter Guide

One group of people who need to adhere to gluten free diets are celiacs (also spelled coeliacs). Celiac disease is a digestive disorder than can affect both adults and children and stops food from being properly absorbed. The small intestine can also be damaged.

The gluten (protein) in wheat or other grains (like rye, barley and sometimes oats) are what a celiac needs to avoid.

Anyone who suspects they may be intolerant to gluten should get an official diagnosis first. A blood test is performed and the blood is analyzed for protein levels, lactose intolerance or antibody tests. A biopsy may also be necessary. Doctors will also ask about bowel movement, abdominal pain, the diet of the patient and their health and lifestyle in general.

While it is mainly celiacs who need to avoid gluten (and they absolutely need to have it removed from their diet), only one in one hundred people have Celiac Disease. Others avoid gluten because they believe it's a healthier way to live for digestive health, although there is no evidence to show this to be true. But most professionals agree that a gluten-free diet is not harmful to someone without Celiac Disease.

Are you thinking about adopting a gluten-free diet?

December 4, 2008 - 1:26pm
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