With more and more people discovering they are gluten sensitive and so many gluten-free products popping out everyone, have you ever wondered if a gluten free diet was right for you? Truly, most people don’t realize that food sensitivities to gluten can be the source of many symptoms such as aches and pains, fatigue, brain fog, bloated gut, skin rashes and a long list of other chronic health conditions such as arthritis, migraines and digestive problems.
Most people don’t even know that gluten intolerance affects 30-40% of Americans now… and unfortunately most people struggling with gluten intolerance or a gluten allergy often suffer for years before discovering the source of their symptoms. In fact, that is what happened to me… and my hope is that this won’t happen to you! If you have not determined that gluten is a problem for you yet, you might still be wondering what all the talk is about.
My hope is to clear this up for you.
First of all, gluten is a protein is found in wheat, barley and rye, oats, spelt and kamut. So breads, cereals, muffins, bagels, pizza, most packaged and processed foods contain gluten… and truly gluten is hidden in a lot of foods!
If you think about it for a moment, you’ll quickly notice wheat, carbs and grains have become food staples in America and the consumption of grains has steadily increased over the years. On top of that the wheat flours that we consume today have been processed and genetically altered more than ever. Therefore, the gluten found in wheat now is very different than the gluten found in the wheat of the past and most people can’t digest this protein.
Scientist are now linking gluten to a whole range of conditions such as inflammatory disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis (and almost all other autoimmune diseases), digestive problems, osteoporosis, anemia, migraines, joint pain, skin problems, reflux disease, anxiety, depression, dementia, ADHD, neuropathy and even weight gain.
It has also been said that the consumption of wheat can also cause low level chronic inflammation in the digestive system and the body as well.If that is not bad enough, wheat has been shown to raise blood sugar to extremely high levels. The author of Wheat Belly states that eating 2 slices of bread raises blood sugar higher than eating 2 tablespoons of pure sugar!!! Wow, that is crazy is you think about it.
By now you are pretty clear why people who suffer from painful or chronic health conditions choose to move to a gluten-free diet. However, people who don’t have problems eating gluten or wheat based bread, pastas and packaged products are also choosing to give up gluten and wheat because of its negative affects on their health.
So how do you know if gluten if affecting you and your health and if a gluten free diet is possibly right for you?
So the easiest way to find out if you are gluten sensitive is to follow a gluten free diet to eliminate gluten for a short period of time usually for 2-4 weeks and see how you feel. Remember that you must eliminate all gluten 100% of the time during this period.
The best thing to do is go to www.celiac.com and get familiar with the list of all the foods that contain gluten. Trust me, it is hidden in a lot of foods! Following through with an elimination diet is one of the best ways to truly find out how your body reacts to gluten.
If you want to take it a step further, there are more sophisticated tests now that help determine if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity. Most of these tests look at various antibodies. Your doctor can help you with this, although there are many doctors that are not up to par on the latest tests. Functional medicine doctors are usually more versed in these special tests, but discussing this with your doctor can be helpful to bring everyone up to date :).
The most important thing for you to know is that if your tests do show elevated antibodies, it is very important that you do start a gluten elimination diet. New research has determined that even gluten sensitivity without a complete allergy or diagnosis of celiac disease can lead to serious health problems.If you decide to follow a gluten-free diet, what easy healthy swaps can you make to make this transition easier?
Whole wheat pasta for brown rice, quinoa or spaghetti squash pasta.
Whole wheat breads for quinoa, wild or brown rice, buckwheat and amaranth.
Whole wheat buns or wheat wraps for lettuce leaves or brown rice wraps.
Crackers for kale chips, bean chips or gluten-free grain crackers.
Just beware when swapping gluten or wheat containing products for other highly processed, high glycemic corn or white rice gluten-free products. The gluten free packaged products sold now may not be a healthier choice, so read the ingredients! Eliminating gluten and wheat products might feel overwhelming in the beginning, but take it as a challenge to learn new recipes and to start adding-in healthier, whole foods!
Depending on your unique health condition or health concerns, it might be necessary or not for you to eliminate gluten containing foods completely from your diet. But, one thing I will say is that most of my clients who have been dealing with chronic symptoms or chronic health conditions… 90% of them feel better when they eliminate gluten from their diet.
So the real question now is: Is gluten affecting you and your health?
PS: If eliminating gluten for 3-4 weeks feels long to you, start with 2 weeks… you might feel surprised at how much better you feel and it might motivate you to continue making healthier choices! Now it’s is your turn. Go ahead and share your thoughts or questions below.Have you tried a gluten free diet before? If so, what were your results? Much love, health and happiness!