You know it. You love it. You probably shouldn’t eat it.
As one of the OG gluten free warriors I first want to extend my sincere appreciation to those that do not have Celiac or a gluten allergy but chose to go gluten free regardless. Thank you for coming out in droves, making “Gluten Free” mainstream, and saving me from a life of eating dense, crumbly “bread”. I owe you.
With 15 years of experience following a gluten free (GF) diet under my belt, I could take up a lot of page space talking about this one. But I think for starters we should focus on what gluten is, and why you might want to consider avoiding it.
Bear with me for this mini science lesson. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in the ever loved, ever common, grain – wheat. It is also found in barley and rye. Oats remain questionable so I suggest avoiding just to be on the safe side. Gluten acts as a binding agent that holds some of our most beloved foods together. Pasta, cereal, cookies, muffins. The list goes on and on….
The extent to which a person reacts to gluten falls somewhere along a broad spectrum.
On the far end of the spectrum are individuals with Celiac Disease (hey there!). Celiac disease is not actually a food allergy, but rather an auto-immune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells after digesting gluten. Celiac disease can be confirmed through a simple blood test, or your doctor may choose to do an endoscopy to confirm your diagnosis.
Other types of reactions include an allergy to gluten, an allergy to wheat (rye and barely are tolerated), or a gluten sensitivity (considered less severe than an allergy). Far more people suffer from wheat/gluten allergies or sensitives than from Celiac. Regardless of the diagnosis, a strict gluten or wheat free diet is often the prescription.
So, what makes gluten so bad? First off, it’s not the same gluten our ancestors grew up on. It’s highly processed, grown in soil likely depleted of essential nutrients, and dowsed with harmful chemicals. In fact, changes in the method of growing and processing wheat and other gluten containing grains is suspected to be a factor in the increase of celiac and gluten allergies in recent decades.
So, what are some of the telltale signs you might want to give a gluten free diet a try? Let me be the first to tell you – the full list is long and contains quite a few symptoms that might surprise you. Personally, my main symptoms were daily headaches and fatigue (doesn’t exactly scream digestive disorder does it?). So, this is why you should take this list with a grain of salt as its not exhaustive and every person’s experience is different. Drumroll please….
- Digestive Issues: Bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea
- Skin Problems: Rash, eczema, psoriasis, flushing of the skin
- Neurological Issues: Confusions, fatigue, anxiety, depression, lack of focus, brain fog
- Other common symptoms: Nutrient deficiencies, suppressed immune function, headaches, weight loss, anemia
This post barely scratches the surface of everything I plan to share about Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance and following a GF diet. If you have any specific questions, please comment below!
Finally, check out my article on why I love being gluten free (you read that right) and be on the lookout for my guide (coming soon!) if you are new to GF or are considering starting a gluten free diet.
That’s all for now!