The Student-Run Newspaper of Kishwaukee College

The Kaleidoscope

The Gluten-Free Movement

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Megan Schwaller, Staff Writer

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You’ve seen it advertised. You’ve heard people talking about it. It seems nowadays you cannot escape the two famous words: “gluten-free.” At the same time, many individuals are not even aware of what gluten is, or why so many people are running from it.

To simply state it, gluten is a combination of several different proteins. Most commonly it is found in wheat products and other types of grains. It is also used in processed foods as a binder and filler. When you’re eating that delicious doughnut, gluten is the part that gives it the fluffy texture. How could that possibly be a bad thing, you may ask? The reason there is so much hype about gluten is because many people are significantly affected by it. For 1% of the world population, eating gluten is life-threatening. The numbers do not stop there. Research has estimated that 18 million in the United States alone suffer from gluten allergies.

Many skeptics question why people are just now starting to become sensitive to gluten. Scott Desavouret, co-editor-in-chief on the Kaleidoscope staff, believes the gluten-free movement is 90% a hoax, although does believe there is a legitimate problem buried beneath all the hype. According to an article titled “This Is Your Gut Gluten” written in the Huffington Post by Doctor Amy Myers, today’s wheat is different from wheat a hundred years ago. The wheat we consume now is subject to being hybridized, which results in new proteins (gluten) being created. These proteins, which are not naturally found in wheat plants, are responsible for increasing inflammation in our bodies. In other words, they make us feel like crap.

I myself used to think the gluten-free movement was a bunch of nonsense until I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called “Hashimoto’s.” The disease basically involves a war within my body – my immune system attacking my own thyroid. After doing some research, I learned that the major culprit was gluten. You see, the molecular composition of gluten seems identical to the composition of my thyroid. So when I put gluten into my body, my antibodies start to attack it and break it down, and essentially take down my thyroid with it. Cutting gluten out of my diet helps me to fight back and save my thyroid. I had no idea gluten could be so sneaky.

One good way to see if you’re sensitive to gluten is to completely eliminate foods containing it from your diet completely for a few weeks. Then gradually reintroduce it, and see if any symptoms arise. You may be surprised to find that staying away from gluten could help to you feel more healthy. Some of the most common side effects include headaches, fatigue, skin changes, bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, and memory fog. These symptoms could be your body’s way of telling you to lay off the gluten.

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The Gluten-Free Movement