What is gluten? Why should I go gluten-free?

Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten’s name comes from the Greek word for glue, and its adhesive, elastic property is the very thing that holds a loaf of bread or bite of cake together. But when that glue hits the intestines, it interferes with the breakdown and absorption of nutrients in the accompanying foods of the same meal.

The high-gluten, refined grain that we have all eaten from infancy has created a universal problem, from the gut to the bloodstream to the brain and to the joints, cardiovascular system and endocrine system, as well. At worst, such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and lymphoma can result from severe celiac disease or extreme gluten sensitivity. Less severe reactions are experienced by many who may have occasional unexplained diarrhea or intestinal gas and bloating, vague joint pains, infertility or brain fog. Most people discover that they feel better and have increased energy when they eliminate gluten from their diets. For some it’s a matter of personal preference. For others, a gluten-free diet is a medical necessity.

There are many replacements and alternatives to wheat flour and bread products. For example, using lettuce or rice wraps instead of bread and using quinoa or rice instead of pasta. Restructuring your meals around proteins such as meats, beans and lentils, vegetables and fruits, instead of grains is the healthiest way to incorporate a gluten-free diet into your lifestyle.

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