Monday, January 16, 2012

Gluten Free, Take Two

As mentioned in the last post; with the restructure of our blogging we decided to get a little more technical in our posts. There's always room to improve right? So let's kick off our GF challenge extension but this time the right way. ;)

What is gluten?

Gluten is the protein composite made up of gliadin and a glutelin found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten produces the elasticity in wheat, barley and rye products. Basically, it's what makes bread rise, stretch and hold it's form. I.e. the fluffiness of French bread.

So why are people going gluten free and eliminating all the delicious products that are derived from these glutinous grains?

Let's start with a bit of intestinal anatomy. The small intestines are the main site for absorption of nutrients, like amino acids and simple sugars. The intestinal villi that line the epithelium of the intestinal wall are the main structures responsible for this absorption. These highly vascular, finger-like projections increase the surface area of the intestines and allow for maximum and efficient absorption into the blood stream.

For people with Celiac disease (also known as Celiac sprue) their bodies cannot properly absorb nutrients when foods with gluten are consumed. The body creates "antibodies" to gluten, which help the immune system identify gluten as a "foreign invader" and respond in a way to eliminate this threat. Essentially, the immune system reacts to gluten like it might react to a bacteria or a virus. This reaction attacks the intestinal lining and damages the villi. An attack on the villi leads to malnutrition regardless of the amount of food or vitamins a person consumes. This is just the beginning - if left untreated, malnutrition can lead to unhealthy weight loss, constant fatigue and weakness, anemia, osteoporosis, easy bruising, nerve damage, infertility and so much more.... 

Our GF Challenge Motivation

We both have friends and family who suffer from gluten intolerance which is why we decided to go GF for (now) 6 weeks. We hope that by going GF we can understand more about this intolerance, gain a deeper respect for those with Celiac and learn how to make delicious GF options to serve at gatherings. Plus, any healthy nutrition challenge has benefits; clearer skin, increased energy, shiny hair, beautiful nails and much more. We just couldn't pass those benefits up!

Ashley & Brittany

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