Celebrating National Nutrition Month with Eat Your Way To Wellness
March is National Nutrition Month, and this year we're celebrating with our friend Jessica DeLuise who is not only a Physician Assistant but also the founder of Eat Your Way To Wellness blog and cooking show. I first met Jessica on Instagram (totally normal these days, right?) and completely resonated with her belief that food can either be the best form of medicine or the worst form of poison. So when Jess asked me to partner on her Celiac Disease & Gluten Intolerance episode, my answer was hell yes! You can watch the full episode on her channel, or read the highlights below written by Jessica herself.
Gluten is a very hot topic! More and more restaurants are offering gluten free items and there are entire grocery stores dedicated to the food group. What is gluten and what do you need to know about it? Here is a quick overview of symptoms, reactions, and some hidden sources of gluten.
What is Gluten? Gluten is the general name for a protein that comes from foods like wheat, rye, oats and barley. When people think of gluten containing foods, they often associate it with items like breads, pasta, and desserts like cookies, pastries or cupcakes. But, surprisingly, gluten may actually be present in a variety of other food products and personal care products. The fact is, gluten is present in many condiments, packaged/canned foods, cosmetics and spice blends, to name a few.
Why do we care about gluten? Gluten can become an irritant or allergy trigger in those who are intolerant. There are several different symptoms someone may experience when exposed to gluten. Usually, these symptoms are a function of three gluten-related disease processes: (1) Celiac Disease (2) Gluten Allergy (3) Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance.
(1) Celiac Disease: This affects about 1% of the population. Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction triggered by gluten. Antibodies are created and directed toward their own body’s tissues, causing damage to the intestinal lining. Symptoms can be various and sometimes non-specific. They include but are not limited to abdominal discomfort, headaches and migraines, joint pain, fatigue, depression, vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, irregular bowel movements, amongst so many others.
(2) Gluten Allergy: This is extremely rare, affecting less than 1% of the population. Gluten triggers an allergic reaction, mediated by histamine. The reaction is similar to other food allergies, like peanuts and soy. Reactions vary and may include rash, tissue swelling, GI upset, shortness of breath or anaphylaxis.
(3) Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: This is an intolerance to gluten, not an immune reaction like allergic or autoimmune reactions. Patients report various reactions such as bloating, abdominal discomfort or change in bowel irregularities. There are many hypotheses to explain this reaction, but it is still not well understood.
Because symptoms of gluten intolerance and allergy may be similar to other intolerances and disease processes, it may be difficult to diagnose. It is important to visit with your healthcare provider to discuss your wellness to receive the proper guidance and diagnosis. Safety first!
Here is a list of 10 products you may not expect to find gluten:
(1) Soy sauce. Soy sauce is made from fermented wheat. Opt for liquid aminos or coconut aminos instead.
(2) Oats. While not a natural source of gluten, oats may often be coated in flour containing gluten to separate the oats in the package. It may also be present in oat products like granola bars or cereal. Always look for the certified gluten free symbol.
(3) Whole grain bread. Whole grain bread still may contain wheat, barley, or rye (grains that contain gluten). Always look for the certified gluten free symbol.
(4) Broth and Soup. Broths and soups will often contain gluten as a thickening agent. Read those labels!
(5) Vegan Meat. Meat substitutes like veggie burgers, nuggets, or wheat- based Seitan may contain gluten. Gluten may be used as a binder. Read the label to spot gluten-containing ingredients.
(6) Beer. Beer and malted beverages are made from fermented barley, wheat or other grains. If you choose to imbibe, do so responsibly. Opt for gluten free wine or hard cider.
(7) Candy. Candies and chewing gums include coloring and flavoring additives that may contain gluten. Often, you will find lists of gluten free candies on the manufacturer’s websites. Some even list out the gluten free options for customers.
(8) Lunch Meat. Lunch meat is often bound together with gluten containing ingredients like starch and dextrin. Even bacon and other pork containing products, like sausage and hotdogs, could contain gluten additives.
(9) Coffee creamer. Coffee creamers will often contain ingredients such as barley malt or thickening agents which may have gluten. Many prepared, specialty coffee drinks also contain these ingredients.
(10) Some personal care products can contain emulsifiers and additives that contain gluten. It is possible to react to products like lip glosses and balms if you are sensitive or allergic to gluten. Look for gluten free products and check labels for these additives.
Eat Your Way to Wellness focuses on building a strong foundation for wellness through positive nutrition and lifestyle choices. Founder, Jessica DeLuise, has over 10 years of clinical experience as a Physician Assistant with a Master’s degree in health science and a certification in Culinary Medicine. Now, she is sharing all of her secrets with YOU! Learn the SIMPLE, PRACTICAL, & EASY ways to meet your goals, fuel your family, boost your energy, maintain a healthful weight and take control of your kitchen! Visit EatYourWaytoWellness.com.