5 things you should know about gluten
April 5th, 2013
01:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: Dr. Arthur Agatston is the medical director of wellness and prevention for Baptist Health South Florida. Creator of the best-selling South Beach Diet series, he is the author of the new book, "The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution."

If you're confused by the gluten-free diet craze, you're not alone.

Like many people, you've probably heard about the phenomenon but really don't understand what gluten is or what, if anything, you should be doing about it. Yet millions of people in this country are turning their lives upside-down trying to avoid it.

Here are five things you need to know about gluten:

1. It's a protein that can cause problems. Gluten is the major protein found in some grains. It is present in all forms of wheat (bulgur, durum, semolina, spelt, farro and more) as well as in barley, rye and triticale (a wheat-rye cross).

But gluten can also turn up in unexpected places, like certain brands of chocolate, imitation crab (surimi), deli meats, soy sauce, vitamins and even some kinds of toothpaste.

Gluten is different from protein in other grains (such as rice) and in meat (such as steak) in that it is difficult for humans to digest completely. It can make some people very sick. But not everyone.

Read - Gluten: 5 things you need to know

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soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. quotablequips

    99% of so-called 'Gluten allergies' are really fashion statements by overpriviledged white people who are in need of a hobby. We have been eating wheat since time immemorial, yet this whole Celiac/anti-Gluten trend was never discussed before 2 years ago! Some diseases are hip and trendy (and psychosomatic). It's sad, really.

    April 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • taniko

      I don't know what the racial thing is you got going here is, but I do know a couple people with severe gluten problems. And, today's wheat is not our grandparents' wheat - it has a lot more gluten in it, so people with originally-milder symptoms are going to feel effects with today's wheat, magnified. Thing is, we really don't need to eat wheat anyway. It isn't a "fashion statement", at least for most.

      April 23, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Ruby

      There does seem to be some stlish thing going on now, but Ciliac disease is very real for those of us who have it. For us, the fad is a real plus; there are so many new glutin free products on the shelves.
      The race remark is silly of course, bigotry but with just a grain of truth. People with Ciliac disease (except for Tropical Sprue) are typically descended from a white culture in Northern Europe who did not cultivate or eat wheat and so did not develope the ability to digest glutin. The majority of cases are of Scandinavian and Irish descent.

      August 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
      • Ruby

        Sorry; meant "stylish".

        August 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Lisa

      Well that's rather "uninformed" of you but I can't blame you. Prior to 3 years ago I'd even heard of Celiacs disease but I sure knew I felt terrible for literally 2 years. I lost half my hair, my hands and feet were completely numb with almost no feeling and I had chronic diareah. After a trip to a gastroenterologist and having an endoscopy done taking 6 biopsies from my intestines the doctor could tell on site I had Celiacs Disease. I was getting almost zero nutritional value from my food which accounted for the hair falling out and numb hands and feet, vitamin deficiencies. Why anyone would deliberately choose to go gluten free when they don't have to is beyond me, IT SUCKS! Reading every label of every single thing you put in your mouth is not "trendy" for me. Cases of Celiacs Disease go back hundreds and hundreds of years, babies used to starve to death before they knew how to treat it. To the average person doing this, yeah they are mindless sheep but the end result is more choices for people like me who genuinely have to live like this. I'd give anything not to have to deal with this the rest of my life. My chances of losing my entire colon due to this are about 400% greater than yours if I don't faithfully follow a gluten free diet. I watched my mother lose her colon due to cancer, I have zero desire to go through that myself.

      May 18, 2014 at 9:26 am |
  2. Supernatural

    there s some good points here

    April 8, 2013 at 4:00 am |
  3. Scrubs Tvshow

    nice article !

    April 8, 2013 at 3:41 am |
  4. llball

    There is growing evidence that NO ONE should eat wheat. You can check it out, here: http://www.facingthefork.com

    April 6, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  5. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    Haven't eaten GLUTEN in 10 + years. Feel remarkable and recommend everyone do so. Just try it out and see if your body feels better without it!

    April 5, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  6. mymotherfullife

    Reblogged this on My Motherful Life and commented:
    As a mother of a child that has both a wheat (gluten) and dairy allergy, I've been forced to do extensive research on dietary alternatives. My findings have led me to understand that excessive amounts of gluten in the human body is bad for you (like anything else consumed in excess).

    And while the rest of my family have no food allergies, we've taken this diet on together and are seeing improvements in our overall health. We are clearer headed, experience less bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort and bloating, and we are not as sluggish.

    I admit that adopting a gluten-free diet is not an easy thing, especially when the rest of the household are used to their fluffy pancakes, moist chocolate cakes, scrumptious cookies, and hearty pasta, there are some amazing gluten-free versions of food that are giving some of my favorites a run for their money!

    I recommend that you read the article and do some of your own research about the benefits of a gluten-free diet and challenge yourself to try it for a week. You have nothing to lose and potentially much to gain!

    April 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
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