Gluten and nutrition coaching
What is gluten?
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale. Gluten may also show up as ingredients in barley malt, chicken broth, malt vinegar, some salad dressings, veggie burgers (if not specified gluten-free), and soy sauce. The protein also hides in many common seasonings and spice mixes. Gluten helps bind food together. For example, it gives bread a spongy and chewy texture.
What does it mean to be gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant?
Gluten intolerance (also known as a gluten sensitivity) is a condition in which the immune system responds abnormally to a protein called gluten.
Individuals with a sensitivity to gluten can have reactions that range from specific gastrointestinal problems to widespread reactions throughout the body. An official diagnosis of gluten intolerance or celiac disease requires a blood test to measure antibodies to gluten. However, the blood test is only accurate in a patient who is consuming gluten at the time, since the test is measuring the body’s response to gluten. Gluten sensitivity doesn’t result in visible damage to the lining of the digestive tract and cannot necessarily be detected by a blood test. Symptoms often lessen or disappear when gluten is removed from the diet. Most people with gluten intolerance feel better on a diet with less gluten.
What is celiac disease?
The most severe response to gluten is defined as celiac disease, a condition in which the patient cannot tolerate any gluten. In celiac disease, the presence of gluten actually damages the lining of the digestive system. As the damage progresses, the patient does not digest food properly and may begin to be malnourished. If left undetected, celiac disease can begin to cause an array of symptoms throughout the body. People with celiac disease will have clear digestive problems such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, or constipation.
The only way to know if you have celiac disease is to do a blood test that detects antibodies related to an abnormal immune response. If the blood test is positive, a biopsy is performed to confirm inflammation in the lining of the small intestines.Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. People living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye, and barley, such as bread and beer.
Celiac disease is hereditary. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a one in 10 risk of developing celiac disease. Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems, such as the development of other autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers.
Removing gluten from the diet
Because wheat is abundant in the American diet, completely eliminating gluten requires adopting a whole new diet. Most breads, crackers, breakfast cereals, conventional pastas, pastries, and a wide range of processed foods made with small amounts of gluten should be avoided.
Gluten-free products have become popular in recent years and have come a long way as far as taste and expense goes. Many natural product food stores, such as Wholefoods, Trader Joes, Mississippi Market, Fresh and Natural, etc. sell gluten-free foods. Even mainstream stores like Cub, Target, etc. have natural food sections that include many gluten-free products. Many restaraunts are now providing gluten-free options on their menu, and you can always request gluten-free items.
Gluten testing and pricing
Please see the Pricing page for screening services and pricing.