Washington Family Magazine : March 2015
washingtonFAMILY.com March 2015 13 Why is gluten sensitivity on the rise? There are several theories behind why many more people are gluten sensitive today than in decades past. First, gluten intake is higher than it was 50-plus years ago. The typical American diet is rich in carbohydrates, and many are wheat- based. Most of our snacks, including crackers, pastas, pizza, breads, cakes and cookies, are made with wheat flours. Additionally, food manufacturers now add gluten to many packaged, processed foods to improve texture, increasing our exposure to gluten as compared to previous generations. Second, wheat produced in the U.S. may contain more gliadin as compared to wheat in other countries, and may explain why individuals who are gluten intolerant can often tolerate wheat outside the U.S. (It is important to note that those with Celiac should avoid wheat/gluten entirely regardless of country of origin. The inclusion of gluten in the diet regardless of the source can cause severe health complications.) Lastly, recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that early introduction of gluten in pediatric patients can increase their risk of gluten sensitivity later in life. Similar to adults, children are exposed to high amounts of gluten and this exposure can lead to an increased prevalence of sensitivity. hoW to go gluten free? If you suspect gluten intolerance in you or a family member, try an elimination diet (going completely gluten free) for four to six weeks and see if your symptoms improve. If you feel better, you may be gluten sensitive, and removing it can help to heal your gastrointestinal tract and improve your overall health. The information provided is for education only and is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor should it be used as a replacement for seeking medical treatment. Jaime Coffey Martinez, MS RD is a registered clinical and integrative dietitian who practices in the D.C. area and owns Nutrition CPR, LLC (http://www.nutritioncpr.com), a nutrition consulting company providing both one-to-one nutrition coaching and corporate nutrition and wellness programs. Jaime coaches her clients on the importance of choosing real, nutrient-dense foods that will nourish the body, optimize health and help clients achieve their personal goals.