“Going gluten free” continues to gain popularity, and for good reason! So many people experience noticeable reduction in many health issues after they’ve ditched the bread. There are hundreds of symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity, but many of these symptoms, including acid reflux, eczema, and headaches are often blamed on other things like spicy food, environment, and tension, and covered up with over the counter drugs. But, just as we approach everything, we believe it’s important to treat the root cause, not just the symptoms!
Gluten sensitivity is becoming more and more common, and yet, as gluten free diets and products gain popularity, the hype may be taking some of the credibility away from this way of eating. This is unfortunate since your health may be significantly improved by going gluten free! While it can seem overwhelming at first, our advice, as always, is to keep it simple. Going gluten free doesn’t have to be complicated. We know you can feel your best by embracing a real food approach to a gluten free lifestyle. Let us show you how.
What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats and other grains. Gluten can trigger inflammation, stand in the way of nutrient absorption and cause a host of other health problems. In my opinion, no one needs gluten and we’re all better off without it, so you’ve got nothing to lose when it comes to implementing the recommendations in this post.
Why go gluten free? Food sensitivities are at the root of many of our clients’ health issues. Dairy and gluten are the two most common culprits and in this post we’re going to focus on gluten. When you are sensitive to gluten and consume it, an inflammatory reaction takes place in your body. The reaction significantly varies from person to person and can manifest itself in a wide variety of symptoms including but not limited to: bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, acid reflux, stomach aches (anything digestive), fatigue, rashes, ulcers, depression, migraine headaches, joint pain, acne, and allergies. Some people who are gluten sensitive are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t exhibit symptoms, at least for a certain period of their lives. This means it’s possible for symptoms to suddenly appear out of nowhere. It’s no wonder so many clients say things like “but I’ve been eating bread my whole life without any problems… it can’t be the bread.” It could!
“But I don’t have Celiac Disease.” You don’t have to have Celiac Disease to be susceptible to the damaging effects of gluten. Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune condition triggered with the consumption of gluten. Damage of the small intestine is done when gluten is consumed. But non-Celiac gluten sensitivity may be affecting over 1/3 of the population. And the symptoms can be similar but there isn’t an accurate test that a lab can do to show a sensitivity.
Shouldn’t I get tested before giving up gluten? We don’t recommend testing because many of the tests we have access to aren’t very accurate. The best test is one you can do yourself—try eliminating gluten for at least 3-4 weeks (preferably 6-12) and then add it back in and pay attention to what happens. Your body will tell you what you need to know. Gluten can remain in your system for quite some time, the length varying from person to person. Be patient and don’t be frustrated if you remove it from your diet and your symptoms don’t improve overnight or even after a week.
Are there any risks involved with going gluten free? Some healthcare professionals may tell you that you’ll be at risk of nutrient deficiencies, but in our experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Gluten can inhibit your gut from absorbing other nutrients and making vitamin B12. Besides, gluten-containing foods are usually low in vitamins and minerals when compared to whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. This is why the government fortifies grains with iron and folic acid—they know that people become depleted in these nutrients by eating grains. Most gluten-containing foods will also take us for a ride on the blood sugar roller coaster leading to spikes in our blood sugar. In fact, many people find that their blood sugar goes up higher after eating some wheat, than it would if they ate pure sugar!
So what can I eat? Eat fish, meat, eggs, poultry, all healthy fats like butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and get your carbs from fruits and veggies! Sound familiar!? That’s because our PFC approach is naturally gluten free! It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it is important to try to go “all in” during your trial period (and afterwards if you discover you are sensitive to gluten). Being “mostly” gluten-free won’t provide the results you’re looking for. At minimum, give it everything you’ve got for 3 weeks. 100%.
If you find that you are super sensitive, you may need to be extra careful of cross contamination and even check labels of products like shampoo, lipstick and vitamins (don’t risk it—we’ve got you covered with high quality vitamins). When you’re first trying gluten free, try not to stress too much and just keep it as simple as possible by sticking to real foods.
When in doubt, opt for real food. Now if you’re still not sure what that means, check out our Simple Guide to Gluten Free to learn what you should and shouldn’t be eating!
For more information on gluten, check out the following resources: