The Truth about Gluten

separating the wheat from the chaff

gluten freeIf you are already avoiding gluten then you have something in common with NFL quarterback Drew Brees and Cyclist Tom Danielson, a record-breaking member of the Garmin-Transitions team. Both have been gluten free for the past two years.

Going gluten free has become big business. Sales of gluten-free products grew about 30 percent a year from 2006 to 2010, and will hit $3.9 billion by next year, according to the market research company Packaged Facts. Supermarket shelves are filled with gluten-free breads, soups, and cake mixes—even gluten-free ketchup and soy sauce. According to market research firm Mintel, 10 percent of new foods launched in 2010 featured a "gluten-free" claim, up from only 2 percent 5 years earlier.

So... all of this begs the question what the heck is gluten and how does it effect me? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, as well as in many common food additives. It's what gives dough its elasticity and baked goods their satisfying chewiness. But for people with who are gluten intolerant or battling celiac disease—a type of autoimmune disorder—eating foods that contain gluten can lead to a cascade of nasty reactions, including damage to the small intestine, poor nutrient absorption, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, anemia, and fatigue. Even if you don't have celiac disease, gluten may still be bad for you, says Lara Field, M.S., R.D., a dietitian at the University of Chicago's celiac disease center. A rising percentage of people in the United States consider themselves "gluten-sensitive." "These people may have a food intolerance or experience many celiac-type symptoms after consuming foods that contain gluten," says Field.

Cutting or reducing gluten from your diet may not be as much of a challenge as you think. It simply means that you will need to integrate new gluten free whole grains and flours such as buckwheat, quinoa, millet, teff, sorghum, and wild rice (which is not not really rice but similar to grass seed).

Cutting out gluten can also help you shed a few pounds as well. But, not for reasons you might think. By cutting the gluten out of your life you will find that you will be eating less foods that are high carbohydrate such as bread, muffins, bagels and donuts. And we all know eating too many refined carbohydrates can lead to increased belly fat.

It may be comforting to know that all Steviva Brands and Trinity Hill Farms are gluten free.

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