Thursday, August 9, 2012

" I'm Sensitive ... "

So please be careful with me, I'm sensitive
And I'd like to stay that way.
I was thinking that it might do some good
If we robbed the cynics and took all their food
That way what they believe will have taken place
And we'll give it to anybody who has some faith
So please be careful with me, I'm sensitive
And I'd like to stay that way

~ Jewel ~ I’m Sensitive ~

There is a great deal of talk about having issues with Gluten.  After recent discussion with family and friends, I realized that I needed to understand what it is and why so many are intolerant or sensitive to it.

Did you know that gluten comes from a composite formed from different proteins?  
Within gluten, there are actually four main proteins: albumins, glutelins, globulins, and prolamins.  Glutelins and prolamins are found in higher concentrations in wheat, while albumins and globulins are more plentiful in corn and rice.  

When most of us think of gluten, we think bread ... as mentioned, wheat and also barley and rye.  Baked goods enjoy gluten because of the texture and chewiness it provides.  But did you know that gluten is also used as a thickener, binder, flavor enhancer and protein supplement?  This leads to the following foods that contain gluten ... and some may surprise you:
  • cereal grains such as durum, spelt, einkorn, farro, graham, kamut and semolina
  • soups, broths, gravies and sauces such as ketchup, salad dressings and marinades if used as a thickener
  • bouillon, spice blends, coffees, dairy products, vinegars and liquors if used as flavor enhancers
  • imitation meats or wheat meats such as seitan in vegan and vegetarian diets

So why is it estimated that up to 15% of North Americans are intolerant or sensitive?  This is a term that is used to describe three conditions: wheat allergy, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or celiac dis-ease.  As the body starts to produce an abnormal immune response in the presence of wheat or its proteins, some of the following symptoms have been reported: 
  • Significant unexplained change in body weight
  • Nutritional deficiencies due to mal-absorbtion e.g. low iron levels
  • Gastro-intestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
  • Fat in the stools (due to poor digestion)
  • Aching joints
  • Depression
  • Eczema
  • Head aches
  • Exhaustion
  • Cramps, tingling and numbness
Many people are unaware of what this all means, as every individual with some level of gluten intolerance or allergy may experience different shades of these symptoms.  But always consult with your medical practitioner if you think you may be sensitive to glutenSelf diagnosis is not recommended as it can be just as dangerous to your health.  Better tests are now available for raised levels of certain auto-antibodies in our blood.  These antibodies are produced when the body sense a dangerous intruder allergen, like gluten.  If the results indicate an allergy to gluten, the doctor may perform a small intestine biopsy. This will reveal the damage to the villi in the small intestine.  Note: it is important to eat an ordinary diet including gluten, before being tested.  

Just another reason to understand what is in your food ... read labels carefully.  
A great place to start is to know what you are sticking in your mouth first.

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