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The Skinny on Gluten

By Kristin Davis, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent

Gluten is a protein found in common grains used for cereals. The sticky protein also provides binding and elasticity to bread and other products.

Mayo Clinic reports that “roughly 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease, but around 1.4 million of them are unaware that they have it”. For those living with celiac disease, wheat, rye and barley negatively affect the digestive system. The immune system responds adversely, causing damage to the small intestine. As a result, nutrients absorbed through the small intestine are not absorbed, which can result in key nutrient deficiencies.

As a result of increased celiac diagnoses, more Americans are seeking gluten-free products and removing gluten from their meal plans. Citizens should keep in mind that celiac disease and a wheat allergy are not one in the same. A person with a wheat allergy will experience commons symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, swelling of the lips, hives and maybe

wheezing or breathing problems. To assure the you are making the best decision for yourself or your family members experiencing intolerance to gluten, we suggest seeing your family physician for screening and testing. Currently, the best practice for caring for such intolerance is a gluten-free diet. Take a look at resources below from our friends at the Mayo Clinic and Colorado State Extension to set you in the right direction for a gluten-free diet.

Mayo Clinic: Gluten-free diet: What’s allowed, what’s not

 Colorado State Extension:  Gluten-Free Diet Guide for Peoplewith Newly Diagnosed Celiac Disease