To be or not to be — gluten free

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Whether it be a decision of trend or a health issue, being gluten-free is not an easy lifestyle to adjust to or maintain.
Changes are now being made around California Baptist University to accommodate students with gluten allergies or celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the villi in the small intestine resulting in not only allergic reactions but serious health concerns.

Gluten, a protein mainly found in wheat, is found in a wide variety of foods. Aside from breads and pastas, gluten can also be found in foods like teriyaki sauce and couscous.

Symptoms that arise from celiac disease and gluten intolerance can range from an average stomach ache, weight loss or even bone-density issues.

According to Dr. Nicole MacDonald, associate professor of kinesiology and director of the Athletic Training Education program, there is a direct correlation between celiac disease and bone-density issues. When left untreated, complications can develop later in life, which is a main reason to test children early to control the condition as early as possible.

An easy way to prevent bone-density issues would be to detect gluten intolerance or celiac disease early, which most doctors are trying to do, said Jillian Hevey, certified athletic trainer.

While being gluten-intolerant is not easy, a solution to the prevention of symptoms and issues is quite simple, MacDonald said.
“Removing gluten from your diet, it is the basic hallmark treatment,” said Dr. Margaret Barth, professor and director of the Nutrition and Food Sciences program. “However, these individuals have to be very investigative in terms of the products they are purchasing from stores to ensure there are no gluten or wheat-containing ingredients.”

Cutting out gluten may sound easy but when it is in a majority of all food products, it becomes quite the challenge, Barth said.
Dana Mcmenamin, junior public relations major, is forced to live a gluten-free lifestyle and said the adjustment was anything but easy for her.

“I initially went gluten-free last summer because I was having a lot of stomach issues (and) then they figured out my problem,” Mcmenamin said. “I have to be careful with labels, choose protein styles when I can and now Brisco’s has gluten-free bread for more variety.”

In order to make up for the vitamins and minerals that Mcmenamin lacks in her diet, she turns to potatoes, meat, vegetables and fruits. Knowing what brands produce the best-tasting, gluten-free products is key to making the diet easier to adjust to, Mcmenamin said.

Whether this is a trend in the food industry, or a lifestyle change that needs to be made, developing a gluten-free diet may be the right choice for you. But consider speaking with a doctor before making this change.

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