$7 billion dollars! That is the estimated amount of dough that food manufacturers producing gluten-free products cleared last year off “the buzz” that is gluten-free.1 This number is predicted to double this year.
Is there factual evidence that gluten is that big an issue, or is this simply a fad that will fizzle out in time?
What is gluten and why should pay attention?
Gluten is a protein found in certain grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt and semolina. It not only gives baked goods their characteristic texture and chewiness, but it is also used in the processing of many other foods to add thickness, flavor and added protein.
Are you going gluten-free? It is estimated that as many as 20 million Americans have some form of gluten sensitivity and are looking for ways to are reduce the gluten in their diets. Some are doing this because they have a confirmed diagnosis of Celiac disease, some are gluten sensitive, and others are finding that reducing gluten aids them in other ways including weight loss, sharper mental function, and increased energy.
If someone has true Celiac disease, they have a condition in which the body experiences a severe immune reaction when gluten is eaten. The result is damage to the inside of the small intestine, which greatly impairs absorption of nutrients. Gluten sensitivity is different in that the reaction to gluten is less severe and less damaging to the small intestine, but physical symptoms are still present, such as nutritional deficiencies, gastrointestinal difficulties, fatigue and headaches. The foundation for treating both conditions is treated by removing gluten from the diet.
However removing gluten is usually not enough to heal the damage and restore your health.
There are three lab tests (that CANNOT be obtained on routine labs) that I use to test, rather than guess, if you have a problem with gluten, have damaged your gut, and have depleted your body of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to feel your best.
What are the three tests most useful for diagnosing and treating gluten sensitivity?
- Gluten genetic testing – Sounds super-scientific, and it is. The test however is super simple, only requiring a swab of the inside of your cheek. The test looks at your genetic predisposition to have a problem with gluten. With a “stronger genetic predisposition”, repeated exposure of gluten could lead you down the road towards true celiac disease.
- Food/environmental allergy and sensitivity testing – Once there has been some damage to your gut by repeated gluten exposure, your immune system may become compromised and reactive against other foods and substances in your internal (diet) environment, or external environment. Going gluten-free but not recognizing the other substances your body is reacting to, is a common reason I see that patients do not get better with a gluten-free diet.
- Intracellular micronutrient analysis – Due the damage in your gut, the cellular machinery is disrupted and unable to extract the healthy foods, vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals you are consuming in your diet. Standard labs due a poor job of detecting deficiencies that can be contributing to ongoing symptoms despite going gluten-free.
Your best defense against fads and food marketing sizzle is to be informed.
Exploring the testing above will give you concrete answers to help shape an optimal nutrition plan to treat the underlying causes of why you do not feel well, rather than just managing the symptoms.
What you put in your body matters. Food is medicine. Work with a health care professional who can help prescribe what your body needs to feel and function at its best – not just mask the symptoms.
Committed to your health, and avoiding food-marketing hype,