functional, holistic remedies for modern folks

Gluten is a protein mostly found in wheat, but also in rye, barley, including barley malt, bran, bulgur, garina, kamut, orzo, semolina, and spelt.  Any food made with these grains contains gluten. Look for them in any type of pastas made out of wheat, semolina and farina. And don't forget about all the baked goods such as tortillas, bagels, pizza and pie crusts to name a few.  Even cereals made from rye, wheat, bran and barley always contain gluten.  But cereals containing oats, corn, and rice are often processed on the same equipment as their gluteny counterparts.  

In it's natural state, meat and poultry is gluten free. But be wary of breaded meat and chicken, oven or deep fried meants, hot dogs and other meats processed with 'natural flavors', and deli lunch meats.

Other items on on the list are beer, dressings, couscous, tabbouli, gravies, sauces, potato chips, torilla chips, canned soup and broth, bouillon cubes, frozen or canned vegetables in sauce, restaurant or fast food French fries.

Going gluten-free has benefits and risks. Let's look at what they are.

Many switched to a GF diet claimed that it changed their child's behavior and quality of life for the better - even dramatically improving the symptoms of autism. 

Why does  it seem all of the sudden, that gluten became an evil part of our life? Hasn't our ancesters been eating gluten for centuries?  The answers may lies with the fact that modern grains have much higher concentration of gluten, thanks to selective breeding to get higher crop yields, explained Alessio Fasano, M.D., medical director of the Center for Celia Research at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, in Boston. Also, over use of antibiotics could also be changing the bacteria in our gut and making it more difficult for us to manage gluten.  And the hyper-santized environment (think antibacterial everything) may be signalling some people's immune system to see gluten as an enemy. 



Tummy Tamer

That kind of immune-system misfire is exactly what happens to people with celiac disease: Gluten sets off a reaction that damages the walls of their intestines, causing symptoms like stomach pain and vomiting. The injured intestines can't digest and absorb nutrients properly, leading to weight loss and serious problems such as anemia and low bone mass.

Ruth Milligan took her son Joseph to the pediatrician when he was 4 because of unexplained vomiting; the doctor also noticed his paleness, distended belly, and slowed growth. After Joseph was diagnosed with celiac disease and stopped eating gluten, his GI problems disappeared and he gained a much-needed pound a month. "He finally became an energetic kid," says the Columbus, Ohio, mom.

Doctors screen for celiac with a blood test to look for antibodies against gluten and then diagnose it with an endoscopy and intestinal biopsy to check for damage. However, some kids who test negative may still have trouble with gluten. A fairly new diagnosis called gluten sensitivity is given to someone who has the physical symptoms of celiac but none of the intestinal injury or antibodies against gluten. It's estimated that as many as 6 percent of the population has it (compared with 1 percent for celiac).

If digestive conditions like colitis are ruled out, a child feels better on a gluten-free diet, and symptoms return after reintroducing gluten, he's considered gluten sensitive.

When Jennifer DeRouen's son Mitchell was 2, he was irritable, frail, waking frequently at night, struggling with language development, and projectile vomiting. Though his celiac test came back negative, a doctor thought that Mitchell might have gluten intolerance. DeRouen, of The Woodlands, Texas, says she removed gluten (and dairy) from his diet, and he became a different kid within a matter of days. The physical problems stopped, and his mood and speech greatly improved. Though she was relieved they found the root of Mitchell's problem, it's frustrating that among teachers and parents his gluten sensitivity isn't taken as seriously as food allergies are. "People think we're just making some kind of wacky health choice," she says.

Many health benefits claimed by gluten-free advocates, lack scientific support.  However, many people swears by it, including myself.  

Just because a food item is labelled gluten-free, it may not be necessarily be good for you. To make it tasty, many are also nutrition-free junk foods, adding high amount of sugar, fat, sodium, or calories. So read your labels carefully.