Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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The recent gluten-free food fad has some nutritionists concerned. When people eat gluten-free foods, they may be missing some important nutrients. It is generally recommended that if you do not have celiac disease, you do not need to avoid gluten. However, some people have given up wheat and other grains due to a real or perceived benefit. Many report that their digestive symptoms improve or “they just feel better.” Non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance has been suggested but as yet there is no definitive test for its diagnosis.

Research has shown that avoiding FODMAPS can help people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Wheat and other grains (rye, barley) (containing gluten) are sources of fructans that aggravate symptoms of IBS. So it is advised to eliminate these grains for a time from the diet to see if symptoms improve. See a previous post HERE.

If you choose gluten-free foods, you should definitely read the Nutrition Facts Panel as well as the ingredient lists.


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Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity?

Should you be gluten-free or wheat-free? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Avoidance is essential for people with celiac disease, a condition that triggers an immune response damaging the lining of the small intestine. There may also be some people who experience the symptoms (bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea) of celiac  now referred to as non-celiac wheat sensitivity without having the actual diagnosis of celiac disease.

Proponents think a gluten-free diet will improve everyone’s health, skeptics consider gluten-free just another trend.  Be sure to talk to your doctor – please do not self-diagnose. Restrictive diets can lead to nutrient deficiencies. If your doctor has suggested you try a wheat-free diet to see if symptoms subside, be sure to check ingredient labels of processed foods for the presence of wheat. For example, the presence of wheat flour is found in many products like breaded products or even cream soups.

It has been  debated as to whether non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) actually exists. This study sheds some light on the topic. Gluten