Gluten: What Is It and Should You Be Concerned?

You might have noticed many food labels now disclaim the use of gluten. But, what is gluten and why does it matter if it’s a part of our diet?

Gluten is the term for proteins found in cereal grains. Consuming these proteins is usually harmless. But, for sufferers of the hereditary celiac disease, ingesting the gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye can be a big problem. If a Celiac sufferer ingests gluten, their immune system damages their small intestine in an effort to remove the protein. This may result in symptoms varying from stomach discomfort to malnutrition.

The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. The Celiac Disease Foundation is a great resource for tips on how to live a gluten-free lifestyle, offering guidance on gluten-free alternatives to favorite foods, how to read labels, and how to stick to your diet while dining out.

Although it is a hereditary disease, celiac can develop at any age. Many adults and seniors appear to tolerate gluten for many years before they are diagnosed with the disease. This source talks about the unique considerations of seniors with celiac disease like the stronger risk of osteoporosis, managing a special diet on a budget, and addressing dietary needs with potential retirement communities.

Now that awareness is on the rise and diagnosis techniques have improved – the increase in gluten-free labeling addresses the needs of a rising demographic. However, unless you have gluten allergy or intolerance as determined by a doctor, there’s no need to be concerned about gluten in your food.

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