It seems like most of the civilized world has now heard the word “Gluten” mentioned by family and friends, or possibly even their own physicians. Only a few years ago, gluten was a virtually unknown problem, and probably one of those words that would have been met with scoffs of disbelief and skepticism if a person openly blamed this plant protein for any health problems. I mean, how could gluten cause so many problems?
These days, if you talk about gluten or celiac disease, chances are that almost everyone knows of someone who has issues related to gluten. Everyone has seen gluten free products on the TV, and on the supermarket shelves. However, how far the rabbit-hole goes is still largely unknown and underestimated.
In case you don’t know what gluten is, or what it does, here is a short piece taken from Celiac.org about the condition:
“Celiac Disease (CD) is a lifelong inherited autoimmune condition affecting children and adults. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present.
Gluten is the common name for the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. These proteins are found in ALL forms of wheat (including durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn and faro) and related grains rye, barley and triticale and MUST be eliminated.” – Celiac.org
A person doesn’t need to have full-blown Celiac disease in order to have a real problem with gluten. A person can suffer with Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance (NCGI), without showing the telltale signs of a worn intestinal lining, as we see with Celiac. It’s said that gluten intolerance and Celiac disease is one of the most misdiagnosed diseases known to man, with up to 65% of the population being sensitive to Gluten. It’s very difficult to correctly diagnose, and very easy for average doctors to over-look.
Some of the conditions that are possibly caused by gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease include:
“ASSOCIATED AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS
Insulin-dependent Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, Liver diseases, Thyroid Disease-Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Lupus (SLE), Addison’s Disease, Chronic Active Hepatitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Turner Syndrome, Sjögren’s Syndrome, Raynaud’s Syndrome, Alopecia Areata and Scleroderma
OTHER DISORDERS LINKED WITH CELIAC DISEASE
Down Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Williams Syndrome” – Celiac.org
In my opinion, eliminating all gluten containing grains is always the logical first step in attempting to alleviate hundreds of different health conditions. Do you have seasonal allergies? Eliminate gluten. Do you have frequent nasal or chest congestion? Eliminate gluten. Eliminating gluten has so many wide ranging positive health effects, I believe that almost everyone can benefit in some way from eliminating it from their diet. But, is JUST eliminating gluten and still eating a mainly standard diet a good course of action?
Living gluten free is a positive lifestyle change for anyone, but spending more money on expensive gluten free versions of your favorite supermarket foods, isn’t exactly optimal. The gluten protein gives bread it’s springy texture, and it binds ingredients together. If you just remove the gluten from a bread mixture, you end up with a crumbly mess, that doesn’t look or feel like bread at all. So what does the food industry have to do, to create all of the gluten free products you see on the shelves? Well, they have to either use a different type of flour to make the product, such as rice flour, or they have to use a chemical substitute as a stand-in for the gluten.
By far the best, most nutritious, and potentially cheaper option in the quest to eliminate gluten is to completely eliminate processed Franken-foods from our every-day lives. The typical food items that are made from gluten containing grains, such as bread, pasta, and wheat cereals, are very low in natural vitamins and minerals, while being very high in empty calories from starchy carbohydrates. Even without the gluten protein, these foods still eventually become glucose (sugar) in your body, and easily contribute to insulin spikes, and still make people fat if eaten in excess. Instead of spending time, money and energy, trying to emulate and recreate your favorite gluten containing processed foods, you’ll be MUCH better off if you simply eliminate all of these items from your diet.
Often times, people who go gluten free tend to eat more food, and therefore gain more weight than people who eat gluten containing foods, because they believe that they can get away with eating as much as they want of the gluten free foods. Don’t fall into that trap.
Don’t just go Gluten free, go Paleo!
One of the main components of a standard Paleo diet is being completely grain free. For me, that means being completely free of gluten containing grains, but I still eat some white rice here and there. I don’t try to make Paleo-pancakes, or Paleo-bread, or Paleo-pasta; I simply don’t eat those items at all. If you spend your entire food budget on natural, real, whole foods, you will have plenty of tasty meal options, and there will be no need to re-create those standard American “food” items that you used to love so much. If you eat gluten free Pancakes everyday for breakfast, you won’t be doing your body any favors. Contrary to popular American dietary beliefs, a sugary/starchy breakfast is not the best way to begin your day, and definitely not the best way to maintain a properly working metabolism. If you want to be completely gluten free, consider making the change to a Paleo lifestyle. It could be the best thing you ever do for your body.
For more information on Celiac Disease and gluten, please visit www.celiac.org
If you found this article useful, please click the ‘LIKE’ button below to share on Facebook. We also invite you to leave comments, and join the Paleo Diet News discussion!
Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
For more information please visit: www.undergroundnutritionist.com