Monday, October 31, 2011

Gluten Intolerance

Do you have trouble with your stomach hurting frequently?  Do you think of it as "just part of getting older?"  Have you had digestive problems for years and just learned to live with it?

Oftentimes health problems creep in so gradually that we just adjust ourselves to them and are barely aware that there is a problem there, or we think that everyone is having problems, so why should I be any different?

An increasingly common cause of tummy pains is gluten.  Gluten is the elastic protein in certain grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye) that makes for a well binding dough.  It helps to trap air in the dough and makes for lighter bread, and malleable dough forms for pasta.  Unfortunately, it also is sticky and gummy and adheres to the tissue lining of the digestive track.  Over time the immune system picks up on its presence and in its attempt to eliminate it creates inflammation, which is where the hurt comes in.   For the relatively small number of people with Celiac Disease gluten is a true health nightmare.  You do not have to have Celiac Disease, however, to have gluten intolerance or digestive inflammation.  Anyone having digestive problems - Irritable Bowel, Crohn's Disease, just nebulous abdominal pains -- would benefit from at least giving a gluten-free diet a try.

Giving up gluten is no simple matter, however.  Wheat flour is used in a surprising number of ways.  Most people find the giving up of bread and pasta a major impact on their ability to eat.  Fortunately, the numbers of gluten intolerant people has increased so much over the past few years, that stores are carrying a lot of gluten-free products.  (If you are overweight though, be cautious to read labels for fat content and adjust portion sizes accordingly.)

I'd suggest going off all gluten for two weeks and see how your tummy pain is.  If you then add wheat back, your tummy will definitely let you know if gluten is the problem.  Then you have a choice.  You can put up with the pain; or you can eliminate gluten for an extended period of time.

NatureWords for your body, peace for your soul,

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