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5/28/14blog post

Jimmy Kimmel asks: "what is gluten?"

Have you seen the Jimmy Kimmel What is Gluten segment?? If not, please enjoy some fun –

I love it – with the popularity of the gluten free diet craze, do people really know what gluten is?? For one reason or another, people choose to change up their eating habits and follow a diet fad. In honor of the Celiac Awareness Month, I wanted to answer Jimmy Kimmel’s question, “Do you know what gluten is?”

What is Gluten? Gluten is the protein in grains that is harmful to people with Celiac Disease (CD). Only some grains contain gluten (wheat, rye, barley, triticale). Oats often contain small amounts of wheat so they need to be carefully chosen or avoided, too.

What is Celiac Disease? Celiac Foundation says it well: “Celiac Disease (CD) is a lifelong inherited autoimmune condition affecting children and adults. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present. “In easier to understand terms, CD is a disorder where the body attacks gluten and makes a toxin that hurts the intestine. The damage can happen even without the person knowing about it.

What are the symptoms? Connecting your symptoms with CD can be a challenge.

  • Common symptoms: diarrhea, abdominal (stomach) pain or bloating
  • Less apparent symptoms: joint pain, anemia, tingling in feet and hands

Should I follow the diet if I suspect CD? No –one should not follow a Gluten Free Diet (GF) until after a positive diagnosis is made. Why? Following this diet will begin repairing the intestinal villi, the fingerlike projections in our small intestine that absorb the nutrients from our food. So, following the diet early would skew test results if one truly has Celiac disease.

Should I follow the diet to lose weight? This diet has become a hot one! People hope they lose weight, improve gut issues and eliminate autism by not eating gluten. However, people that must follow this diet for treatment of CD usually gain weight for they are now “repairing” their gut and can finally absorb (get) all of the nutrients from the food they eat. Many gluten free (GF) foods actually have more calories than non-GF ones. Following a GF diet eliminates great food sources that provide nutrients: fiber, iron and B-vitamins. I don’t recommend use of the GF diet for anything other than treating CD.

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