The Truth Behind the New Trend

The gluten-free diet has become a sweeping new trend and many of us are left to wonder, where did this trend come from and why are so many people jumping on this bandwagon? If you take a stroll through any store, whole foods markets or large retailers, without a doubt you can pass by a section of that store that says ‘Gluten-Free’; even the famous Girl Scout Cookie has created a gluten-free cookie that everyone can enjoy. With gluten-free being more available for consumption it has peaked a lot of curiosities to where this growing trend derived from.

This little protein called Gluten…

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye; yes, these grains, are very common ingredients in a lot of foods that we absolutely love to eat. For many of us we have consumed gluten for our entire lifespan and have felt no harmful side effects from our indulgences, but for others this could be a different story. Although gluten-free diets have become a new trend, it was actually intended as a therapeutic treatment for those who have celiac disease or gluten sensitive enteropathy. You may not realize but even the tiniest crumb of food containing gluten could severely affect a person that has celiac disease.

Living with Celiac disease…

Determining how someone has celiac disease is simple (blood testing), determining how someone gets celiac disease is not so simple. There are people that carry certain gene markers for celiac disease but that doesn’t mean everybody who has that gene will actually contract the disease. Celiac disease is growing more and more common and its effects/symptoms for people can range from mild to severe. Gluten contains a substance known as prolamins that can trigger an immune response in the body to attack and damage the intestinal mucosa. This attack can cause symptoms such as stomach cramps, pain in the abdominal cavity, diarrhea, and malnutrition or weight loss. As diagnostic testing progressed, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease became more prevalent and subsequently the gluten-free diet became well known. By withdrawing gluten from the diet the damage that has been done to the intestinal mucosa has a chance to heal over and symptoms can subside.

Like the symptoms alone for Celiac disease wasn’t enough…

When gluten is consumed by someone who has celiac disease the immune response is immediately triggered which can also create OTHER conditions that become associated with the disease. The most common associated condition with celiac disease is dermatitis herpatiformis (DH); a blistering of the skin, characterized by red water-filled blisters. A few other conditions that are associated with celiac disease are: alopecia areata (hair loss), eczema, psoriasis, urticaria (hives), and vitiligo. To clarify, these conditions are not symptoms, are not definitively correlated with, but can be associated with the immune response from celiac disease. The conditions listed are those of dermatological concern and can be treated and maintained by a dermatologist. As far as treatment for celiac disease, your best option is…you guessed it, the gluten-free diet.

The war against Gluten…

For those who have celiac disease a gluten-free diet is your best course of treatment. For those who willingly choose the gluten-free diet, who don’t have celiac disease, are focused on the possible nutritional benefits from cutting out gluten. The nutritional benefits of cutting out gluten for the everyday person can be: cutting out processed food that contain a lot of gluten, cutting out oils that are used in many gluten containing foods, and ultimately people steer towards eating more fruits and vegetables since they are the most easily identifiable food group that doesn’t contain gluten. Overall, a gluten-free diet is comparably beneficial as telling someone to cut out sugars, cholesterol, and eat more fruits and veggies.

I want to be Gluten-free…

That’s great! Gluten free products have become more readily available for the consumer, whether it’s a therapeutic treatment for celiac disease or just a healthy dietary lifestyle you choose. The key to being on a gluten-free diet is to be the detective. Although you can head to that gluten-free section in your local store it can be a limited selection of foods; therefore, it is your job to be the gluten detective. Simply put, look through the ingredients lists and educate yourself on gluten products. With the ever-expanding internet, there are many sites that you can find gluten-free forums and recipes to make in your home. Being on a gluten-free diet can be a healthier choice, but keep in mind it also can greatly reduce your fiber intake and create a loss of vitamins that you were receiving before. It is always suggested for everyone to speak with a doctor or a registered dietician before going on a gluten-free diet; your physician or registered dietician can properly instruct you on cutting out glutens and may also have resource lists for retailers with larger gluten-free selections as well as restaurants that provide gluten-free meals.

You are in good hands…

Celiac disease and its associated conditions are manageable. As a knowledgeable dermatology office, at Contour Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Center we are very familiar with the dermatological conditions that can be associated with celiac disease and their treatments. As a diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology, Dr. Timothy Jochen is trained on the latest techniques in dermatology and is dedicated in helping people maintain vibrant appearance and feel great about their skin. Contact our office today for treatment; we can help you feel great about your skin too!

* Results and your patient experience may vary