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Feeling Bloated After Eating That Bagel? Read This!

Are you one of the millions who love bagels for breakfast or dinner? Let's face it bread is one of the main foods in the food chain that has been starving for centuries.

Why is there so much talk about the ill effects of eating gluten? Bread should be good for you, right? This may be true for most people but not for others with symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea. Some of my patients complain of fatigue, weight loss, and maybe muscle and joint pain. As I delve further into their eating habits to determine their cause, nine times out of ten I find their symptoms are linked to gluten sensitivity.

What is gluten sensitivity and how do you know if you have it? If you ask yourself this question, you are not alone. Let me explain.

"Gluten" is a family of proteins found in wheat along with oats, rye, and barley. Gluten sensitivity is caused by the immune response to gluten. Simple blood tests can determine if you have antibodies specific to gluten. An inherited form of gluten sensitivity is called Celiac Disease and can affect 1 out of 133 people. Celiac disease is often diagnosed by a small bowel biopsy that may reveal physical damage. Other forms of gluten sensitivity or allergies can develop as people get older.

What happens if you keep eating gluten?

Some symptoms of gluten sensitivity are found in the digestive tract. Others are more common. The body releases chemicals during the immune response that can cause vague symptoms of joint pain, fatigue, and muscle pain.

If gluten-sensitive people continue to eat foods containing gluten, the body will continue to make antibodies to gluten. This immune reaction causes physical damage to the small intestine and makes it difficult to absorb nutrients. This leads to diarrhea and weight loss. If left untreated, damage can endanger life. Fortunately the small intestine has the ability to regenerate healthy cells and will recover over time if gluten is removed from the diet.

What If You're Gluten Sensitive?

Listed below are some things you can do if you suspect you may have some of the symptoms described above:

• Check with your doctor and ask for a blood test to determine if you are gluten sensitive.

• Find foods made with oats, quinoa, rice, corn, cereals, and amaranth.

• Food provided, such as macaroni and frozen cheese, will list the gluten content in the packaging.

• Websites for gluten-free local recipes, products, and support groups are available online.

• Ask your market to offer tours featuring gluten-free items on the shelves.

• Ask your local market to develop gluten-free options.

• Restaurants and yachts often have gluten-free options for pizza, pasta, and bread.

• As gluten sensitivity becomes more prominent, you may find that if you ask for gluten-free foods when you eat, others in your group will ask for it too.

• If temptation is a problem, ask for a basket of crackers and bread to take away after other guests have helped themselves.

Make sure your digestive tract is healthy!

Once you get rid of gluten and your digestive tract is healing, there are ways to make sure it works. Eat a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables. At night, drink a glass of water with a spoonful of psyllium sauce. It adds fiber and helps remove unwanted material from the body. Yogurt can help restore the balance of gut bacteria, which is important for digestion.

Damage caused by gluten sensitivity can interfere with the body's ability to process food. Your digestive system may need some help getting back to health. Here are some natural ways to help heal.

• Take multivitamins, as the damaged intestines absorb less nutrients in the food

• L-glutamine is useful for healing the small intestine

• Probiotic supplements can help restore good bacteria in the gut

• Digestive enzymes help your system digest food while the balance of natural enzymes is restored

• Fiber, such as psyllium and flax, can help the gut function efficiently

If you have been abused for months or years with gluten sensitivity, be patient. Give your body time to heal as soon as you remove gluten from your diet. Avoid bakery counters, and eat healthy gluten-free foods instead. Gluten-free diet plans can bring you tasty foods that are better for your overall health!

Mark Rosenberg, M.D.

Institute for Healthy Aging


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