Gluten is in most of the foods we eat. But what exactly does is it? Well, it’s a protein found in wheat, rye and barley which can damage the intestines of people who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
The genetic disorder affects 1 in 133 Americans. Even more shocking is that most people don’t even know they have gluten intolerance. That’s why a nonprofit group in the black hills works to raise awareness at its first annual Gluten Freedom Fest.
Living a gluten–free diet isn’t as difficult as in years past.
“There’s gluten–free pizza now, gluten– free beer, there’s some good gluten-free desserts out there, cakes, and brownies,” said Joan Clements, President of Gluten Intolerance Group of the Black Hills.
But recognizing the need for that diet is still a challenge. Doctors say many people live with gluten intolerance without even knowing it. That was the case for Tiffany Brett and her daughter.
“I just did research on my own, she was having problems and I couldn’t get answers,” said Brett, who changed her diet to a gluten-free one last year.
Answers miller and her husband didn’t get until two years ago.
“By going to the gastrologist, he found out we had people in our family that had it and he did a blood test and it came back positive,” said Mary-Ann Miller.
Hundreds of people attended the Gluten Freedom Fest in Rapid City to get a similar test. Organizers also provided people with food for thought, meals without gluten they can have at home. But they say the dangers for people with celiac disease don’t stop at food.
When a gluten-free diet comes to mind most people aren’t considering their medications but according to pharmacists, all it takes is just 50 milligrams to cause 1 in 100 people to experience sensitivity in their intestines.
“For over the counter medications look for the words starch, glutened starch, things like that they’ll be fillers in the medications,” said Jo Prang, a Medicap Pharmacist.
So, people with the disease have to make some sacrifices. But they say it just takes some getting used to.
“It took us 2 years almost to find a pizza crust that we liked but now some of my other kids who like my pizza prefer my gluten-free pizza because it tastes good,” said Brett.
And without the gluten that is toxic to their bodies it feels good too.