According to mainstream nutrition advice we need to be eating a lot of whole grains. Things like cereals, breads, and pastas make a killing off this. But are you the victim here?
If you have been keeping up with the news, nutrition, or health, you know that gluten is a big topic right now. It’s being called a fad diet or a holy grail of lasting life. But what is it really?
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in many grains like wheat, rye, barley, cross contaminated oats, and triticale. Some people are known to have what is called Celiac’s Disease – a severe intolerance to gluten which can even be fatal if a person with this condition continues to ingest it. However, what most people don’t know is that gluten sensitivity is a sliding scale.
On one side of the scale is complete gluten tolerance. There aren’t many people here on this side. In the middle of the scale are various levels of gluten intolerance. Some people might have smaller symptoms like bloating and headaches. Others will have larger ones like arthritis, leaky gut, inflammation, and more. Then there is Celiac’s at the other end of the spectrum where gluten ingestion can be fatal.
The problem is many people are intolerant to gluten but don’t know it. Most tests taken at the doctor’s office only check for Celiac’s Disease. This is like the doctor telling you that you aren’t pregnant because you aren’t showing signs. Yet. But in a couple months, or years in the case of gluten, you will. As your immune system takes more and more of a beating, you’ll notice that the things you used to get away with, like eating a whole pizza when you were a teenager, now cause you to feel stiff, fat, and sick due to your overworked immune system no longer being able to handle the incoming gluten. Essentially you are sliding down the scale closer to the intolerance which people with Celiac’s experience.
Add this declining immune health to all the issues we have these days like pollution and chronic stress – along with the fact that most of our grains are genetically engineered and contain more gluten – and you have a gluten-filled recipe for disaster.
Like a group of drunk hooligans at a fine art museum, gluten causes many issues. These issues are numerous and include:
• Increased Body Fat
Gluten is an intolerance in many people, causing increased body fat due to the inflammatory response. A study done on mice showed that when two groups of mice were given similar diets, but one group was given gluten, the gluten fed mice had increased body fat, decreased insulin sensitivity, and increased inflammation. Even though they were fed a similar diet, the ones who ingested gluten are the ones who displayed such negative results. Why would we increase our body fat just because of gluten?
• Worsening Mental Disorders
Gluten has been shown to cause an increase in the negative behaviors from mental disorders like ADHD, ADD, and autism. Removal of gluten from children’s diets with these conditions has been shown to improve behavior and learning ability. Don’t we all want to give our children the best chance to learn possible?
• Increased Inflammation
Since gluten is an intolerance or allergen for some people it causes an inflammatory reaction when eaten. This results in decreased performance, reduced flexibility, lower energy levels, impaired performance, and slowed recovery from training. And here we thought eating our toast and cereal was going to make us a champion.
One of the worst effects of gluten is leaky gut. Leaky gut occurs when undigested food and other particles are able to enter your bloodstream through openings in your intestines. Your body sees these particles in your blood and manufactures antibodies to attack them and be ready for the next invasion. This means now you have essentially become “allergic” to this food as your body sees it as a foreign invader and has antibodies on the ready to attack it should it appear again.
But Don’t I Need Whole Grains?
When asked this question, I respond with a question of my own.
“Can you name something that you need from whole grains that you cannot get from organic vegetables, fruits, and meats?”
Most cereals have to be “fortified” anyway and injected with nutrients. If they are so nutritious, why do they need to be fortified? It makes you wonder.
So What Do We Do?
Try eliminating gluten for 30 days in favor of organic meats and vegetables. Remember, the most important study for you, is you. If you remove gluten and display positive health markers as a result, you likely should continue to eliminate gluten. That means not even “just a little bit.” Instead, base your diet around organic meats and vegetables. Check things like hair, skin, and makeup products as well as these often can come with gluten as a filler. The same applies to sauces and seasonings.
What About Gluten-Free Products?
Just because it says gluten free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Many of these products are still loaded with sugars and artificial ingredients to improve the taste. Once again, go with organic meats and vegetables as the base of your diet.
Give the four week gluten removal challenge a trial and let me know if you have any positive results from it. And remember, don’t be a glutton for gluten.
DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT BELOW WITH YOUR THOUGHTS! AND SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS!
O’Bryan, Tom. The Conundrum of Gluten Sensitivity: Why the Tests are Often Wrong. Journal of Gluten Sensitivity. Winter 2011. 10(1).
Sapone, A., Bal,J., et al. Spectrum of Gluten-Related Disorders Consensus on Nomenclature and Classification. BC Medicine. 2012. 10(13).
Ubio-Taia, A., Kyle, , et al. Increased Prevalence and Mortality in Undiagnosed Celiac Disease. Gastroenterology. 2009. 1377(1) 88-93.
Pietzak, M. Celiac Disease, Wheat Allergy, and Gluten Sensitivity: When Gluten Free is Not a Fad. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. 2012. 36(1Suppl) 68-.
Soares, F, et al. Gluten-Free Diet Reduces Adiposity, Inflammation, and Insulin Resistance Associated with the Induction of PPAR-Alpha and PPAR-Gamma Expression. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2012.
Whiteley, P., Haracopos, D., et al. The ScanBrit Randomized, Controlled, Single-Blind Study of a Gluten- and Casein-Free Dietary Intervention for Children with Autism spectrum Disorders. Nutritional Neuroscience. 2010. 13(2), 87-100.
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