I am sure you have noticed everywhere you go you see more and more gluten free products on the shelves and hear of more people going gluten free. So let me break down this whole gluten free buzz for you…..
Gluten is the major protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It is thought that 70-80% of people have some degree of an intolerance to gluten, manifesting in various ways. The reaction varies significantly from person to person. Health complaints such as brain fog, skin disorders, stubborn weight, belly fat, fatigue, anemia, ADD, headaches, sinus congestion, digestive upset, achy joints and even mood disorders can all be a result of a gluten intolerance. All of these health issues are signs/symptoms of an immune response triggered by gluten ingestion.
When there is an intolerance, gluten causes inflammation in the gut leading to an immune reaction against gluten. So the body starts to fight against the gluten because it is recognized as something foreign. The problem is that the protein in gluten (gliadin) looks similar to the proteins in our body’s organs. What can then happen is the antibodies developed to fight gluten start causing immune reactions against other tissues in the body that have similar molecular structures.
So the body starts fighting its own tissues thinking it’s gluten proteins because they look so similar structurally. This cascade can lead to the development of autoimmune disorders as the immune system starts to affect other organs such as the pancreas, thyroid, heart, joints, brain etc. With severe intolerances and celiac disease, gluten gradually erodes the cells in the small intestine causing disruptions in the lining leading to a leaky GI tract over time if undiagnosed. Yes I mean leaky as in allowing foreign material and bacteria into circulation…yes it’s scary! This damage prohibits the body from absorbing nutrients from food because digestion is so compromised leading to major deficiencies and malnutrition. This combo of toxicity and deficiency will always manifest in disease. Gluten contains opioid-like protein causing gluten to be addictive. No wonder people can’t give up their bread and cookies! They are addicted. And everyone knows the sluggish feeling after a large pasta or carb meal right? Well the opiod-like protein in gluten causes that sedative (aka brain fog, food coma) affect.
The ‘Our grandparents ate this’ argument doesn’t hold good any more since we’re now consuming new strains of wheat. Unlike ancient wheat varieties, “modern” wheat has higher gluten content. The wheat we are eating now has been genetically altered so much that the crop we eat today can’t be compared to the wheat eaten even 50 years ago. It has been extensively mutated and our bodies are not genetically adapted to these changes that have taken place in agriculture.
As you can see I love to hate on gluten but you can see why right? According to Dr. Mark Hyman, most people have some degree of gluten sensitivity yet only 1% are diagnosed. Gluten sensitivity can be the root cause of over 50 different diseases/ health conditions. Remember, it doesn’t have to be GI (gastrointestinal) related, you don’t even need to have GI symptoms. From mood/pysch disorders to neurological, cardiac and endocrine, gluten can be the missing cause behind so many disease and conditions.
If you are questioning if gluten could be an issue for you, get tested. Cyrex lab is the best and most comprehensive lab. Talk to your doctor, although many are not up-to-date on this. I strongly encourage doing a gluten free trial either way.
So where do you find gluten? bread, pasta, pizza, cake, cookies, crackers, wraps, bagels, cereal, or anything made with wheat, barley, rye, spelt, bulgar, kamut, bran, couscous, oats (if contaminated in manufacturing), durum, semolina, triticale, malt, hydrolyzed plant/vegetable protein and more hidden sources in processed foods! check out www.celiac.com for a more detailed list.
Gluten free options: products made from the following – brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, potato, corn, oats (specified as gluten free). There are more than enough gluten free alternatives and products out there. Companies are clearly labeling their products as gluten free now so a lot of the guess work has been taken out! Phew!
Take-home message: If you are suffering from any health condition and have yet to find a solution, give it a shot! Go gluten free for 3-4 weeks and see how you feel. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the thought of taking this on yourself, contact me! I am happy to guide you through the process of acheiving optimal health and vibrance!