Is adopting a gluten-free lifestyle a necessity or choice? Some people may have a gluten intolerance, some may show sensitivity symptoms, and others are opting to be gluten-free.

Once we learned my daughter was gluten sensitive, I knew our diets had to change. I had so many questions and I began researching. What is gluten? Which foods contain gluten? Where can I find gluten-free products? What are the alternatives?

Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. The protein is found in foods with flour (white or wheat). Unfortunately, some of our favorite “feel good” foods contain gluten, like bread, pizza, cookies, pastries (and most other baked goods), pasta, crackers, bagels and pretzels.

A person who is gluten intolerant likely has the autoimmune disease, celiac disease. According to, the disease is one the most chronic health disorders in the western countries, and affects nearly 3 million Americans. Celiac disease is specific in focusing on the gastrointestinal tract. Research shows us that consuming gluten goes beyond the stomach and affects our brains (at all ages).

This made me think, what am I feeding my family and should we consider going gluten-free? Dr. Nicole Ortiz with the Live Well Clinic in La Quinta has adopted a gluten-free lifestyle and says, “We now know that gluten intolerance and allergies can affect more than the digestive tract. In fact, gluten has the potential to break down the communication filter in our brain (the blood brain barrier) just as it breaks down the intestinal lining. Because of this effect, we see people with bi-polar, schizophrenia, ADD, depression, etc. are potentially made ill by the very food they are consuming on a regular basis.”

“Intolerance to gluten is a spectrum disease. It can cause minimal symptoms such as irregular bowels and stomach aches, to severe osteoporosis and psychotic conditions,” Ortiz adds. “Because of the potential implications of this disease, appropriate genetic and immune testing through serum and/or stool is imperative in our children and adult populations alike to truly get to the root cause of ill health.”

If you or you child has such symptoms, get tested and learn if gluten is the cause. You can still enjoy your favorite foods because most of them are now available gluten-free. Harvest Health Foods in Palm Desert offers an extensive selection of gluten-free products. Clark’s Nutrition dedicates an entire aisle to gluten-free products, and many conventional grocery stores are starting to stock their shelves with gluten-free.

As a mother, it was my mission to understand what was irritating my daughter’s intestines. We learned gluten was the culprit and now our entire family lives a gluten-free lifestyle. We feel healthy, energetic, and we have found yummy replacements for all the foods we love to enjoy!

Bronwyn Ison is a yoga instructor with open (public) classes at the Empire Polo Grounds. Bronwyn can be reached at [email protected] or visit

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