Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gluten, Gluten Everywhere And Not A Crumb To Eat

Oh, dear, it seems I've neglected my blog for quite a while. I've been yearning to get back to my writing, but I'm in the middle of finding a new place to live, which is quite time-consuming, to say the least. I'll be glad when it's all over!

Anyway, after signing into the Blogspot dashboard, I saw a blog of note and immediately clicked on it. Why? Well, the title is Gluten Free Girl, and it's here on Blogspot. I've been on a gluten free diet for over 10 years, and it relieved me of chronic anemia and irritable bowel syndrome.

So maybe you're asking what is gluten, and why does it matter? Simply put, gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye or barley. And this matters because approximately 1 out of 100 people in the U.S. cannot digest this protein, but don't know it. Inability to digest gluten is called celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, bloating, nausea and/or vomiting, among others. The only "cure" for celiac disease/gluten intolerance is lifelong avoidance of gluten.

Fine, you say. I'll just stop eating wheat, rye or barley. If only it were that simple! Gluten is often hidden in foods. Anything that says malt or barley malt is off the list of acceptable things to eat. OK, you've just eliminated most packaged breakfast cereals. Soy sauce, which is usually brewed with wheat, is out. Some soy or barley milks are made with a barley enzyme, so they are out too. Wheat can be added to canned soups, seasonings, or processed meat. Beer is made with barley hops, so goodbye to that. And sometimes candy can be dusted with flour to make it less sticky.

The gluten free diet is complicated and requires constant vigilance, but it's worth it if that's what bothers you. The Gluten Free Girl has so much more information on her blog, plus a list of other gluten-free blogs, which I plan to check out ASAP. So give her site a look and let her know if you like what you see, and tell her where you got the link!

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