Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gluten-free diet growing in popularity

Can a gluten-free diet help you feel better? Cheryl Heppard, a holistic health examiner in Detroit, believes that almost everyone can benefit from eliminating or at least limiting gluten, the protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and most oats. Heppard says that nearly everyone seems to have an inflammatory reaction to gluten, although the degree of sensitivity varies widely.

Gluten intolerance occurs in people whose bodies cannot process, or break down, gluten - similar to lactose intolerance. Severe gluten allergy is called celiac disease, and some people may develop severe skin rashes. Heppard says some specialists believe everyone has a reaction to gluten, where those without celiac disease recover from these reactions faster.

Those who are sensitive to gluten or have some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance but test negative for celiac are considered to be Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitive, or NCGS. Symptoms of intolerance to gluten include digestive tract issues, weight fluctuation, poor immunity, headaches, ulcers and skin conditions.

Many people with other health conditions have seen improvement in these conditions simply by eliminating gluten from the diet. These conditions include cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, thyroid problems and other autoimmune conditions.

To stick to a gluten-free diet, pay close attention to the ingredients list on purchased products. Consume rice and potatoes instead of pastas, avoid processed foods, but be wary of gluten as a hidden ingredient. It is sometimes used in cosmetics especially lipstick and balms, stabilizing agents and thickeners, and medications. Fortunately, as popularity and awareness of gluten-free diets grows, the gluten-free products on the market are increasing.

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