What are the benefits of a gluten free diet?
A gluten-free diet is not just for people with Celiac disease! Refined carbohydrates, such as bread, crackers and pasta are one of the top inflammatory foods for your body! Do you know where gluten hides? In those delicious warm rolls before dinner at the restaurant and in the sweet birthday cake or the fluffy pancakes at Sunday brunch…aka:refined carbs!
Should I go gluten free?
- If you suffer from Celiac disease, yes!
- If you think you have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, yes!
- If you are allergic to wheat, barley or rye, yes!
- If you are bloated and uncomfortable after bread, yes!
- If you have an auto immune disease, yes!
- If you have diabetes or thyroid disorders, yes!
- If you have any other stomach related problems, yes!
- If you want to lose weight, yes!
What are the benefits of a gluten free diet?
- Eliminates stomach issues
If you have celiac disease, gluten intolerance or an allergy to wheat, you are likely to experience excess gas and bloating after eating foods that contain gluten. When changing to a gluten free diet you will notice an immediate difference as your digestive issues will disappear, you have more regular bowel movements and your stomach will be visibly flatter after your meal.
- Improves energy levels
People who have gluten sensitivity often suffer from chronic fatigue. This is because consuming gluten products damages their intestines which as a result blocks the absorption of nutrients including iron. This iron deficiency leads to anemia which results in debilitating fatigue. Switching to a gluten-free diet, will give your intestines a chance to heal and this will restore nutrient absorption and improve your energy levels! Who doesn’t need more energy?
- Reduces anxiety & depression
The “second brain” in our gut, in communication with the brain in our head, plays a key role in certain diseases in our bodies. So when your gut is constantly inflamed (by gluten or other foods) your body is struggling to get the correct nutrients and no surprise that stomach issues can cause stress, but they can also lead to significant mental health problem. Researchers found that following a gluten free diet has a positive effect on depression symptoms and can help to improve quality of life.
- Reduces lactose intolerance
People who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance often show symptoms of lactose intolerance as well. This is because the lining of the gut produces the enzyme lactose which breaks down the lactose found in dairy products. People with a gluten intolerance suffer from damage to the gut which impairs lactose production. However, this effect is temporary, and a gluten-free diet will promote gut health and reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
- Controlling auto immune disease
The food people eat and the toxins they are exposed to on a daily basis are two of the biggest contributors to the likelihood of developing an autoimmune disease. Unfortunately they are becoming more common in today’s world with the way food has changed and more chemicals are out in our environment. This is why I went gluten free, if you haven’t followed along in my other posts I have hashimoto’s a thyroid auto immune disease. The best thing I ever did for my body was go gluten and dairy free because they are two key players in inflammation, inflammation is what fuels the auto immune diseases to thrive! If you cut out the main factors to inflammation then your body doesn’t have to work so hard to fight or function through the auto immune issues. Once you have one auto immune disease you are more likely to get another and another unless you get things under control with food and life style changes!
- Weight loss
This can be tricky, I don’t want you to think just because there are gluten free Oreo’s if you eat those instead of regular Oreo’s you will lose weight. That is just silly, but if you eat a healthy, balanced gluten free diet you will be consuming less refined carbs and less processed sugars so that is where the weight loss comes into play. Did you know the body breaks down or converts most carbohydrates into the sugar glucose. So when people go on a low carb diet you typically see them drop weight easily because they don’t have so much sugar intake.
- Improves sink, bone and hair health
Undiagnosed celiac disease can cause severe calcium deficiencies due to the malabsorption of nutrients. This calcium malabsorption is linked to an increased risk of bone problems such as osteoporosis and osteopenia. Also, you are at a higher risk for rashes, including eczema and psoriasis. Lastly, Celiac disease and gluten intolerance have been linked to nutritional deficiencies which in turn cause hair loss. Starting a gluten free diet can help to reverse this type of hair loss, improve hair texture along with the skin irritations and bone density.
Living a gluten free life…
This can be very overwhelming in the beginning but luckily the awareness of the gluten free lifestyle has become much more known with a lot more options at grocery stores and restaurants. I am sure you are wondering how and where to start?
Don’t over think this… fruits, veggies, meat and fish are all naturally gluten free! That is where to start, get in the kitchen and cook, you can do it!
Of course there are days you will want bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, pizza, cake, beagles and so on. You can still have those things, it just takes a few trips to the store to look around for the gluten free options, most grocery stores have a designated area for gluten free items which is so much easier than searching each isle and row for what you need. The taste is generally similar to “normal” food but the texture is different, that is the biggest adjustment for most people. It might take trying a few different brands of bread or pasta to find what you like best. I will make a separate post with brands i have found work for my family.
If you like to cook and bake then your options are even better, Pintrest is filled with recipes and ideas! I will say baking with gluten free ingredients is a lot different but do-able! To the right is a helpful conversion chart with different gluten free flours.
What not to eat!
I’m sure you got the basic’s down by now such as; bread, rolls, wraps, pizza, cake, brownies, any baked goods, beagles, waffles, pancakes, cereal, crackers, pretzels, pasta, bread crumbs, think anything with flour!
BUT here are some tricky one’s that aren’t so obvious; ketchup, salad dressing, soup, soy sauce, gravy, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, beer, other liquor, ice cream, gum, candy, oats, fried food, chicken nuggets, breaded fish, vitamins, supplements and protein powder.
If you are allergic, intolerant or celiac always check the labels.
If you are just trying to cut down on inflammation to help with pain or bloating you might not have to go that crazy…BUT your body will start to feel better and adjust not having gluten in your system so if you do eat it, it can be more irritating to your gut than you might think.
So is the gluten free life for you?
Maybe, maybe not but if you are experiencing any of those symptoms its worth a try! If you want to give it a go, stick to it! Don’t eat well for a week then go have a “cheat” meal with pizza and bread, to really start feeling better you need to cut it out of your diet and keep it out. Staying strict the first few weeks will be an adjustment but the longer you go, the easier it becomes like anything else. After about a month you will start to see great results, less fatigue, brain fog, head aches, bloating and the list goes on and on.
With more gluten-free options becoming available, gluten-free labeling will become much more common and it is starting to but it’s best to know the gluten free basics. Some food labels will say gluten free but aren’t necessarily certified. If you are celiac you want to make sure it is certified because if it is cross contaminated you can still become ill. If you are eating gluten free to feel better than the certified is less of a big deal to worry about. Lots to learn but your health is wealth and worth it; Like anything else, knowledge is power!
Aloha till next time,
As always comment and questions welcome