The Facts About Gluten Intolerance

April 5, 2010 in General Nutrition by Webmaster

‘gluten-free’ diets are the latest nutrition ‘fad’ going around. We would like to take a second to lay down the facts about gluten.

We at Doctor Grandma’s are often asked if our products are gluten-free. The really short answer is, ‘No.’ Doctor Grandma’s uses certified organic hard red spring wheat in all of our products. Our wheat is among the best sources of protein (including gluten) of the varieties of wheat. It is therefore not designed to be consumed by those with true gluten intolerance. The key here is, true gluten intolerance.

It has become very fashionable to be told by persons claiming to be health providers that a person is gluten-intolerant. This is serious disservice to the public. It is very important for those that have gluten intolerance or celiac sprue (see below) not to consume wheat products or many of the other whole grains; however, whole grain wheat contains hundreds of nutrients that have been linked in strong research to reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and bowel problems. For the majority of people, whole wheat contributes to good health.

If you know someone who went on a gluten-free diet and lost weight, you should not be surprised. Anytime you cut out a type of food from your diet and don’t replace it with some other food of equal calories, you will likely lose weight. Losing weight does not necessarily mean being optimally nourished.

The bottom-line is this: if someone tells you that you have gluten intolerance, be sure that you have been properly diagnosed, including the necessary lab work done, at a certified medical center. Many who claim to be ‘nutritionists’ and other uncertified health providers tell their clients that they have gluten intolerance. Often these same ‘health providers’ will sell you many gluten-free products.

True Gluten Intolerance

True gluten intolerance is called celiac sprue, nontropical sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. The villi of the small intestine have been destroyed in victims of celiac sprue. The villi are a very important part of the body’s ability to absorb nutrients that are necessary for growth and health. People with celiac sprue lose much of what they consume (fat, protein, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients) in their stools. This generally leads to malnutrition, poor growth and rickets in children, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. This disease is often inherited. It can emerge at any time in life, often after some form of trauma or stress like surgery, pregnancy, physical injury or an infection.

The good news is that now, a specific blood test will tell if a person has it or not (even if they have no symptoms at all). If someone in your family has this disease, it is important to talk to your doctor and have the necessary blood work done. Celiac sprue can cause serious complications including osteoporosis, anemia, epilepsy and damage to the nerves of the fingers and toes (peripheral neuropathy), and certain types of cancer. It is, therefore, very important to be properly diagnosed.

If you are diagnosed with celiac sprue, you will spend considerable time with a registered dietitian, who will help you identify sources of gluten and where to find products that are gluten-free.

Dr. Grandma hopes that you will take it very seriously before eliminating a major food source of nutrients from your diet.