You likely either know someone or you yourself has been gluten free. To some it may seem like a fad, but to many it is critical. I, myself, have been gluten free, a number of times. That may sound like an excuse or a weakness, and I guess in some ways it is. Like smokers who quit but then start up - you actually didn’t quit then, right?
Gluten is a tricky dude. It is not all created equally and today’s wheat has certain issues that affect our health. Let’s keep that in mind and we will go over that in another blog, as it’s a big area of it’s own. Today we just focus on how to tell if taking a break from it may help some symptoms you are having.
So, if you eat gluten, how can you tell if you may do well to remove it? There are 3 main ways - there are more but these are the top 3 that I have found.
1.) If you have any pain or problems with digestion, that is a sure sign that something is irritating you. A common main reason for that can be wheat, but it can also be other foods. Do you have days where you don’t eat much wheat (or other gluten grains) at all and have easier digestion and bowel movements? Have you gone to Europe and tolerated their breads just fine? Here’s the thing. Your body always tries to adapt and move towards health, so after a while it may “mute” the signs of an issue, but it will eventually get louder and louder until it is yelling at you. What is needed is to absolutely remove the offending food 100% fully, for at least 2 weeks, no cheating at all. Then, add it back in and see how you feel. What happens is your body adjusts to the comfort of not dealing with an irritant (like a loud neighbour), then you bring it back in, and it is so much more noticeable than before. That is your test. Costs nothing and you know clearly if it is a problem.
2.) If you crave wheat type products and eat them every. single. meal. and. snack. These cravings can be for a few reasons, but these are not healthy cravings. It can be blood sugar crashes, which refined wheat products will make a mess of. Or, it can be poor digestion and leaky gut causing those gluten proteins to behave like opioids to our brain receptors. Yup, it can be that bad.
3.) If you have thyroid issues or autoimmune or chronic inflammation. Gluten has been linked to these issues in these areas and removal has often been directly linked to seeing improvements. Sometimes there is more than gluten that is a factor, but it is a great place to start.
Gluten is not a food that we can’t get it’s nutrients from somewhere else. We won’t be deprived. Why not try removal and see if it clears up pain or digestive issues that you have been suffering with but can’t seem to fix?
A blog like this does not leave enough space to fully explain all of these areas, but even this small amount of information is important.
My intention is to get you thinking if any of these areas sound familiar and are affecting you. Then you can start to search, credible people and websites. Do not stop looking, especially if a professional tells you that food is not capable of creating these types of health problems. There is science and hundreds of studies showing how many foods, like gluten, can cause havoc for many, even those who do not have a celiac diagnosis. A very interesting recent study is where an amazing nutritionist in the US worked with researchers in a study that proved a gluten and casein free diet was part of a critical set of changes to improve mood an behaviour for kids with autism.
If someone tells you that a healthy and customized diet cannot change your health - walk away - in the kindest way possible :). Find someone who knows better.
For those of you who like to read studies and want more information regarding the benefit of adjusting your diet or have a child on the spectrum and wondered what diet can do - you may find this helpful:
Next week, I will go into detail on ways anyone can reduce their reliance on gluten by adding in more veggies and legumes to take that place. These are all simple food swaps using the foods that are found in your local Quality Greens markets!
Have a great week!
Lisa Aschenbrenner, RHN - Registered Holistic Nutritionist
For more information please visit RealFoodForThought.ca