What Does It Mean To Be Gluten-Free?

Being “gluten-free” is a hot topic in nutrition these days. Gluten is a protein found in barley, buckwheat, rye, oats, and wheat. Those who eat naturally can avoid gluten altogether by eating fruits, nuts, seeds, and animal proteins. Unfortunately, many of these grains are used in processed foods, especially in flavorings.

Some people have an allergic condition to gluten called celiac disease. This is a genetic auto-immune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged when the subject eats gluten. People with this condition must follow a life-long gluten-free diet for their intestines to function properly. Others may benefit from a gluten-free diet if they are sensitive or intolerant to gluten. Also, people with autism and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease may benefit from abstaining from gluten. (Persons with digestive problems should see a doctor for treatment suggestions.)

So, what can a person eat in order to go gluten-free? The Co-op features many gluten-free products. Some brand names are Nature’s Path, Envirokid, Enjoy Life, Glutino, Lundberg, Udi’s, Ancient Grains, Tasty Bites, Purely Elizabeth, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Glow, Home Free, Simply Organic, King Arthur, Schar, Amy’s, and many more. To stay local, try snacks from Greenwood Kitchen. These can be found in aisle three, in the freezers, and elsewhere throughout the store. Remember, a gluten-free diet is not always a weight-loss diet; however, gluten-free foods combined with other forms of a controlled diet can result in an overall increase in health (check out amys.com for a gluten-free weight-loss meal plan). Most importantly, gluten-free products are not only for people with celiac disease, but are tasty supplements to any diet. The Co-op will be holding samplings throughout the month of some of our most popular gluten-free products. Come try them!

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