Did you know that gluten sensitivity can be the single cause behind many different "diseases"?
As a nutrition and wellness coach I get a lot of questions regarding gluten and about the necessity of going gluten free. People are curious and interested these days in knowing if gluten intolerance is a fad or if it is truly on the rise.
Before we jump into that discussion, let's clarify some terms to avoid confusion.
So what is gluten and where do you find it?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, farro, spelt, kamut, and oats. So when you are eating bread, pizza, pasta, bagels, rolls - you are consuming gluten. It is also found in processed foods derived from wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Like soups, soy sauce, gravies ... etc.
What is gluten sensitivity?
Many people use the term gluten sensitivity interchangeably with celiac disease. Some call gluten sensitivity a food allergy or intolerance. Both are correct to some degree.
Gluten sensitivity causes celiac disease, but not all people with gluten sensitivity develop celiac disease.
This is where the problem occurs. If they test you for celiac and it comes back negative, you are told you do not have celiac or gluten sensitivity.
In reality gluten sensitivity can exist independently without causing celiac disease.
Gluten intolerance is a malabsorption syndrome caused by a reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats.
If you have gluten intolerance, as do millions of people, gluten attacks your small intestines by flattening the villi along the small intestine wall and can lead to the formation of tiny holes in your intestines.
The result is that food particles leak into your bloodstream and your body’s natural defense system sees these particles as “foreign invaders.” This creates two major problems. You can’t absorb important nutrients, and our body seems to attack itself.
As a matter of fact there are more than 180 different disease conditions, syndromes, and symptoms that have been linked to gluten sensitivity in the medical literature.
Conditions such as:
- thyroid disorders
- irritable bowel syndrome
- rheumatoid arthritis
- psoriasis, eczema, rashes, itching
- joint pain
- leaky gut
- moodiness, depression
- tingling numbness in leg
- adrenal exhaustion
It can be the single cause behind many different "diseases." To correct these diseases, you need to treat the cause not just the symptoms.
So gluten-free diets are not simply fads.
Here is what is scary.
The rise in gluten-intolerance is astronomical.
Ten years ago it was estimated that 1 in about 2,000 to 2,500 WORLDWIDE were gluten sensitive. Now that number is down to 1 in 133.
If there wasn’t a good reason, that number would not have made such a significant jump.
Did you know that our distant ancestors ate almost no gluten grains? Grains started to be cultivated only ten thousand years ago, and even then, only in some parts of the world. On the American continent, for example, we had no gluten containing grains until they were introduced a few hundred years ago.
So what is the problem with gluten?
Modern wheat is totally different from the wheat that grew in the Bronze Age and before. It is a
Franken-Grain. The version of "wheat" we consume today is a product of genetic research. It has changed dramatically from the wheat of even 50 years ago ... .
This was done for all the right reasons starting back in the 60s and 70s - to increase the crop yield for wheat growers in order to economically feed the growing world population.
Modern wheat varieties have been bred to grow faster, produce bigger yields, harvest more efficiently, and bake better bread. The downside to today’s hybridized cereal grains is that they contain more gluten.
Where they made the mistake is that they did not realize that the digestion of this protein was too big of a step for our genetics to go from hunter-gatherer and expect the body to genetically adapt to a higher concentration of this protein in the grain. Today's bread is a far cry from what our ancestors ate.
This places us in the midst of an epidemic.
What happens when we consume this "modern wheat"?
It raises insulin levels more than any other food, leading to weight gain and other problems
It is addictive (contains opiates just like dairy) and increases appetite and promotes excessive eating
It wreaks gastrointestinal havoc
It causes or contributes to many illnesses
It dramatically increases the risk of weight gain or obesity, which then increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other health problems
Wheat has inflammatory properties in the body. And many people do not know that Autism, asthma, ADHD, arthritis, and allergies are all inflammatory diseases. And that is just the A’s!
OK, now what?
So gluten has changed and it is affecting us negatively.
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), identifying and eliminating the foods and ingredients from your life that do not work for your body is the only answer.
Things you can do:
Go gluten-free for two weeks or so and see how you feel. If you have a more advanced illness (autoimmune and such), you will not experience changes until you have been gluten-free for 6 months to a year. (I know ... But trust me - it is worth it!)
Personally I have found gluten-free eating easier by sticking to whole foods and relying on veggies and fruits for carbs and nutrients rather than trying to find gluten-free substitutes for foods that typically contain gluten. This way of eating will also cost you a lot less. (Just because an item is gluten-free, it does not mean it is healthy.)
One thing to keep in mind is that gluten is addictive. So for a couple of weeks you might feel awful and you might have major withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, dizziness, cramping, extreme hunger etc. Just stick with it. In a matter of weeks, the addiction will be gone. You'll be less hungry, and you won't go hungry. You especially won't be having those hunger attacks that make you feel like you're starving.
The bottom line.
Gluten intolerance is not a fad diet.
To summarize this all: anyone suffering from any type of inflammatory condition should strongly consider going gluten free, if not daily then in small steps.
If you are ready to heal and need some support with eliminating gluten from your diet - I invite you to schedule a 20 min. "Discovery Session" with me. Just email email@example.com.