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For many people who suffer from an intolerance to gluten, whenever they have mentioned the words, “gluten-free,” they will have likely experienced eye rolling, deep sighs and under the breath comments from people around them.
Some people believe it is just the latest fashionable fad, others comment that they think it is a load of nonsense as humans have been consuming gluten for years and there are some who believe they are doing my body more harm than good when choosing to be gluten-free.
In my own experience, I do not choose to be gluten free lightly. Quite simply, I have no choice.
My main symptoms from consuming gluten are extreme fatigue, bloating, mild rash, constipation, diarrhea, cramps, anemia, IBS, eczema, headaches, mild depression, shortness of breath and chronic sinusitis.
Many people have allergies that they are aware of and there are many others who are not aware yet experience side effects from eating certain foods. Out of all of the allergies, one of the most common is a sensitivity to gluten. This can range from a mild intolerance to Celiac disease or more severe cases.
Gluten, despite what others may think, is not required in our diets. It is not easily digested by the human gastrointestinal tract and for those with Celiac disease it is not digested at all. However, regardless of whether my body reacts to it or not, it is not something I would choose to consume.
Since I have been closely watching what I eat, and looking back at the foods I used to eat, I am quite shocked and often appalled at what I previously chose to nourish my body with and I honestly believe that everyone should be aware of the problems that can relate to gluten so they too can make comparisons to see if gluten is what has been causing them health problems.
Gluten is found in certain grains, including wheat, rye and barley and is an inflammatory protein composite, which is made up of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin. It is gliadin that causes adverse reactions and over time can damage the small intestine.
Gluten is responsible for causing the elasticity in dough and making food such as wheat flour, bread and pasta contain a chewy texture. When flour is mixed with water and a baker kneads dough it creates a elastic sticky membrane that bonds with proteins. Gluten traps carbon dioxide and as it ferments it causes bread to rise while being baked. Gluten is a glue type property; so basically, we are feeding our internal systems something not so different to glue.
Our systems react badly to gluten because when it reaches the digestive tract, our bodies mistakenly believe that gluten is a foreign invader similar to bacteria and so our antibodies elevate. Our immune system goes into attack mode to fight against it. At the same time gluten also attacks an enzyme in the cells of the digestive tract, which can then cause degeneration of the intestinal wall that then leads to nutrient deficiencies.
The inflammatory effect that gluten has on the gut causes oxidation of intestinal cells and promotes them to die prematurely. This can then cause the gut to become leaky which can then allow bacterial proteins along with other toxic compounds to enter the blood stream leading to autoimmune attacks on the body. As well as these effects the food will not be digested properly and nutrients are not able to be fully absorbed.
Some of the foods and drinks that can cause gluten intolerance are:
Since I have eliminated gluten from my diet, I no longer feel unwell; my body feels full of energy rather than debilitated and exhausted and I also sleep better at night. I have found a love for cooking and baking and make foods and drinks from scratch, which is not only healthier, but also extremely enjoyable. I no longer have headaches, rashes, bowel problems, cramps or any bloating and my body feels revitalized, rejuvenated and completely nourished.
My diet is organic, so there are no chemicals or pesticides making their way into my system. My choices are mindful, and although in the beginning I had to be disciplined and it took time and patience to make the changes, looking back now I am horrified at some of the things I fed my body—regardless of being gluten intolerant or not.
And yes, I can see exactly why people think it is a fashion fad as becoming gluten-free becomes a lifestyle, a culture and a positive way to look at foods and the ingredients we are putting into our bodies.
Turning away from gluten has revolutionized my life, not just for the way I now feel on the inside, but how my body has reacted on the outside too. I am healthier than I have ever been and although it can be a little time-consuming to prepare and organize foods, I would rather be spending my time lovingly preparing delicious, nourishing and healthy meals than resting exhausted and in pain on the sofa or in doctor’s surgeries wondering what the hell is going on inside my body.
So, for those who think it is all in the mind, I absolutely agree; making mindful and conscious decisions regarding how we nourish our body absolutely has to start in the mind, and the body will immediately show its appreciation and respond accordingly.
Research estimates that approximately 18 million Americans are sensitive to gluten.
The video below answers some key questions for those wanting to know more. The video explains that the most effective treatment for Celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a gluten free diet.
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Image: Flickr/Czarina Alegre