Paleo Diet: Three Good Reasons to Avoid Gluten

Wheat – one of the main dietary sources of gluten. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s expose of the trend towards manufacturers producing gluten-free non-foods, here’s a timely reminder: three good reasons to avoid gluten (by eating real foods, of course!):

Gluten Causes Inflammation

This is true in at least 80% of the population, and studies indicate that up to 30% of the rest of us will produce antibodies against gluten proteins when gluten is ingested.  The production of antibodies is a good sign – it’s our bodies’ method of fighting off pathogens – but is also a clear indication that the presence of gluten is not desired by the body.  To compound matters, one of the proteins in gluten – gliadin – can be similar in structure to tissue proteins in such organs as the pancreas and thyroid.  When antibodies against gliadin are produced, there’s a risk that they will attack these organs, potentially leading to autoimmune diseases.

Inflammation Causes Illness

Gluten’s inflammatory nature is known to destroy intestinal cells, which can then become oxidized.   This effect creates a “leaky gut”, which enables toxic compounds to enter the bloodstream, further increasing the risk of autoimmune disease, and reducing the gut’s ability to properly absorb nutrients.  Inflammation is now known to be at the root of many illnesses – for example, antibodies against gluten have also been shown to damage heart tissues.  One of the best ways of reducing inflammation in the body is by reducing the intake of inflammation-promoting substances – just one of the good reasons to avoid gluten.  Also see my previous article on reducing inflammation with the paleo diet.

Gluten Intake Is Associated With Cancer

The intake of higher-carbohydrate diets – particularly those containing gluten - is strongly associated with cancer development and progression.  German researchers from the University Hospital of Würzburg recently published a large review on the benefits of a low-carb diet for cancer patients, in which they say:

In the small intestine, gluten triggers the release of zonulin, a protein that regulates the tight junctions between epithelial cells and therefore intestinal, but also blood-brain barrier function. Recent evidence suggests that over-stimulation of zonulin in susceptible individuals could dysregulate intercellular communication promoting tumorigenesis at specific organ sites.

Just three good reasons to avoid gluten.  One of the easiest ways to do it?  Follow the paleo diet!  Here’s how to get started.


Do you avoid gluten?  What are your reasons? Comment below, and join the Paleo Diet News discussion!

Brian Cormack Carr is a life and career coach, charity CEO, writer, and advocate of a real foods diet.
His home on the web is where you will find more articles, his free Lifecrafting Newsletter, and information about his online career-creation programme
You can follow Brian on Twitter: @cormackcarr


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6 Responses to Paleo Diet: Three Good Reasons to Avoid Gluten

  1. Jim Purdy November 30, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Sounds like 3 pretty good reasons, and I seem to have experienced the first one for a while now.

    • Brian Cormack Carr November 30, 2011 at 11:51 am

      Hi Jim, thanks for stopping by! Yes, that first one is a toughie – especially since inflammation often isn’t obvious at first. What have you found helps you deal with it?

      • Jim Purdy November 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm

        Well, it’s just a simple either/or choice:

        Either I eat grains and then I feel terrible …

        Or I avoid grains and I feel fine.

  2. Brian Cormack Carr November 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Life really can be that simple sometimes, can’t it?

    I eventually had to face up to the fact that my beloved oatmeal wasn’t really working for me….

  3. Pauline December 7, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Hi Brian and friends For great gluten-free baking, try – they can post anything they have that you might like!