“Is this gluten free?”
We’ve all heard this before. Whether you are the person behind the counter, or in line waiting to order, none of us are strangers to this question. However, what many people may not realize is that while this may seem like a question brought on by the recent gluten-free craze, gluten allergies do exist, and those who suffer from them really need to avoid gluten. To clear up a few misconceptions, here are a few facts you should know about gluten allergies.
What Is Celiac Disease?
It is possible for those with gluten allergies to develop celiac disease, which is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the small intestine. This is caused by your body’s heightened sensitivity to gluten and can lead to GI issues such as diarrhea, which may indicate an allergy. A simple blood test from a medical professional can quickly diagnose celiac disease.
There is a simple treatment for celiac, and it will require some effort: avoid gluten! By cutting gluten out of your diet, the allergen is no longer present in your body, and most GI issues will resolve themselves. Approximately 3 million Americans, or 1% of the population, suffer from celiac disease and must adhere to a very strict diet. With that many people dealing with the possibility of celiac disease as a result of any meal, “Is this gluten free?” may be a good question to hear!
Do Genetics Play A Role?
Don’t be so quick to blame mom and dad, but yes, genetics are involved in gluten allergies and can be inherited. If someone in your family tree had celiac disease or a gluten allergy, there is a chance that genetic predisposition can be passed down the family line.
Just like any other hereditary disorder, there is no 100% guarantee that it’ll be transmitted, as genes are inherited from both parents. That being said, the easiest way to determine if you may have inherited a gluten allergy is to ask family members if they have had issues in the past, and also visit a doctor. A gluten-free diet is a very manageable and common practice that millions of people live with daily.
Gluten Free Is Not Always Healthy…
This is a common misconception among those with and without gluten allergies. When shopping at organic stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, it is easy to grab any product labeled “gluten-free” to serve at your next dinner party. Unfortunately, the absence of gluten does not guarantee a healthy snack.
Many of these foods are processed, which is unhealthy in its own right, but they can also be cross-contaminated with gluten. The easiest way to avoid gluten completely is to avoid processed foods. Do this, and your body will thank you!
Gluten-free diets are much more than a passing fad. Many people are negatively affected by gluten and must avoid it at all costs. It must also be noted that gluten is not harmful to those who have no allergy. The best way to determine whether or not gluten is an issue for you to schedule a consultation with your board certified gastroenterologist today.
Dr. Jeffrey Linder is a Dallas Gastroenterologist practicing at Digestive Health Associates of Texas. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Gastroenterology and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Linder has two convenient locations in Dallas and Richardson offering state of the art techniques in gastrointestinal problems. Named Top10MD in 2016 – an honor only 1-in-3 doctors succeed within the United States. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Jeffrey Linder, click on his profile or call his office at 214.941.6891