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Gluten Free, is it Worth it?

It seems like everywhere you look, from the grocery store to the bookstore, there are articles and books claiming “gluten free” is the way to go.  For example, books such as Grain Brain and  Wheat Belly, report that by cutting gluten from our diet, we would not only be full of energy but that our brain function would improve significantly.  Does this sound too good to be true? Unfortunately, it probably is and all this misinformation about gluten free diets often gets in the way of educating consumers about the real reasons for following a gluten free diet.  Celiac Disease? Gluten Allergy?  Gluten Sensitivity?  What are the differences and the true incidence of these diseases? Celiac disease is a genetically linked autoimmune disorder that sets off an immune response that causes damage to the small intestine.  Celiac disease is life long & the only treatment for true celiac disease is a gluten-free lifestyle, a diet free of wheat, barley, rye & oats. Diagnosing celiac disease requires blood tests & an intestinal biopsy. Celiac disease is not to be confused with gluten sensitivity, which unfortunately has no tools to diagnose this condition.  Gluten sensitivity describes persons who exhibit symptoms similar to those with celiac disease, but test negative for celiac disease. It is important to note that these individuals do not have the antibodies and intestinal damage seen in celiac disease.

 

So, why do people report feeling so fantastic after going gluten free? First, the Standard American Diet, dubbed S.A.D., is high in sugars, refined flour & processed foods.  Many of the health benefits people claim from going gluten free are simply from eliminating the processed food in our diets.  Speaking of processed food, going gluten free does not mean an automatic elimination of these types of foods.  Browsing through our local grocery store I was amazed at the amount of highly processed gluten free products available.  The basis of gluten free diet is inherently healthy, no processed flours, high in fruits, vegetables & lean sources of protein.   It is important to note, however, that research does not support elimination of gluten from the diet unless diagnosed with one of the conditions described above.

 

So, what to do if you suspect an issue with gluten tolerance?  First, avoid self-diagnosis, which may result in unnecessary elimination of certain food groups.  It is best to make an appointment with a trusted physician and discuss your options for getting  an accurate diagnosis.

 

Resources:

Gluten Intolerance Group of North America

Glutenfree.com

Celiac Support Association

 

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Yield: 13 cookies

Total Time: 20 minutes max!

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup bananas, ripe and mashed, about 2 large bananas
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips,

1 cup gluten free rolled oats
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line two cookie sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients and mix well. With a medium cookie scoop drop cookie batter onto the lined cookie sheets a few inches apart. Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand and bake for 10 minutes.

Let them cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 days.
Source: eatgood4life.com

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