Gluten is the name for the storage proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and other closely related cereal grains. It acts as a binder and gives lovely structure and elasticity to breads and baked goods. Some people are either sensitive to gluten, or are afflicted with celiac disease.

In celiac sufferers, the gluten protein triggers an inflammatory response, damaging the villi projections of the intestinal tract and resulting in malabsorption of valuable nutrients. There may be many symptoms, including anything from painful abdominal cramping and bloating, to skin rashes, to psychological distress; however, some people may report no physical symptoms at all.

Celiac disease affects about 1 in 100 people, and the only treatment so far is lifelong avoidance of eating gluten. Some of the many other conditions that could possibly benefit from a gluten-free diet include diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Always consult your primary care physician before cutting gluten out of your diet. To properly test for celiac disease you will need to be eating gluten for a period of time beforehand.

Find out more from the Canadian Celiac Association.