Gluten, a plant protein, occurs naturally in grains including wheat, barley and rye.
Many people have an adverse reaction when they eat the protein -- especially those with celiac disease, which causes inflammation in the small intestines.
People who do not have celiac disease but who are sensitive to gluten are considered to have “non-celiac gluten sensitivity,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
You may be sensitive to gluten if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Forgetfulness and other signs of reduced cognitive function
- Weight gain
- Abnormal immune function
- Dental problems, including mouth ulcers and canker sores
- Skin problems such as acne, eczema and dermatitis
- Joint and muscle aches
- Fatigue and exhaustion
The symptoms of gluten intolerance typically subside when gluten is removed from the diet. Many healthy and delicious foods are are naturally gluten-free, including:
- Beans, seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry
- Fruits and vegetables
- Most dairy products
If you are have gluten sensitivity, you should avoid all food and drinks containing barley, rye, wheat and wheat-based products, including durum flour, farina, graham flour, kamut, semolina and spelt.
Many foods have these gluten-containing grains, including breads, beer, cakes, cereals, gravies, pastas, salad dressings, soups and snacks.
As a general rule, if you are sensitive to gluten, you should avoid products unless they are specifically labeled “gluten-free.” Be especially careful when dining at restaurants.
If you believe you are sensitive to gluten, you should also be aware of an alternative theory on the issue. As the alternative health specialist Mike Adams suggests, “Your problem with wheat, it turns out, may not be a problem with gluten at all. It may, in fact, be a problem with glyphosate” -- a widely used herbicide.
He claims many “farmers saturate wheat crops with very high doses of glyphosate right before harvest, speeding the drying of the wheat stalks and accelerating harvest duration."
He suggests buying only certified organic products, which are not sprayed with glyphosate.