A restaurant manager recently told me that gluten is now the number one allergy he sees from diners, far surpassing peanuts or dairy as an offender. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and related grain species, as well as in rye and barley. It’s what gives baked goods their elasticity and helps them keep their shape. And it's everywhere.
So why all the fuss? For starters, it is a big deal for people with celiac disease. In the case of celiac disease, gluten creates an autoimmune reaction in the body and actually harms the villi in the small intestine. This can lead to a host of symptoms from digestive distress to neurological issues to malnutrition. This is a genetic disease that affects approximately 1 in 133 people.
Then you there's “gluten intolerance” or “gluten sensitivity.” In simplest terms, it means that your body has a reaction when it ingests gluten. The symptoms can be similar to those with celiac, but the villi in the small intestine are not actually harmed. Some of the symptoms are “foggy” brain, digestive troubles like constipation, bloating, and diarrhea, joint pain, fatigue, depression and ADHD-like symptoms. For many, it also means holding onto some extra weight.
Can you become intolerant or were you born that way? Great question! Have you noticed that as many of us age, we start to feel old? Sounds logical, but many of us feel old beyond our years. I’m a prime example. I feel better now at 38 than I did in my 20s. If you grew up eating a Standard American Diet, or SAD, then chances are that you’ve ingested your fair share of processed foods and low-quality ingredients.
While most of us turn a blind eye to the fact that our favorite foods are making us sick, what passes today as food is little more than an edible scientific experiment that has no place in our bodies. The result of eating most of our food out of a box is that our digestive tracts have been under fire our entire lives.
We all have a thin layer of cells protecting the rest of our body from the toxic environment of our digestive tract. If this layer gets damaged, guess what? Those toxins are free to roam around our bodies creating all sorts of havoc. When your digestive tract is out of whack, it can lead to the development of allergies (or intolerances), not to mention autoimmune diseases, arthritis, mood disorders, cancer and much more. So in short, you can become allergic to foods that have never given you trouble in the past. Who knew?
How do you know if you have a gluten intolerance? The simplest way to find out if your body will respond to avoiding gluten is to eliminate it from your diet for a period of time and see how you feel. If you feel better, then woo-hoo! You’ve got your answer. If you feel the same, then you’re off the hook.
Just be careful of trading one issue for another. We’ve all noticed the rash of brand-new “gluten-free” products out there. If you stop eating cookies, but then go buy gluten-free cookies from a box, do you think you're really doing your body any favors? There are some high-quality products out there, don’t get me wrong. My point is simply to be discerning. Read your labels. If you're ready to make a positive change, then make sure you’re doing it right so you will reap the glorious benefits of true nourishment.
So are you ready to give it a try? Some of the things people report from a successful gluten detox are the following:
- weight loss
- more energy and less fatigue
- clearer mind
- improved digestion
- fewer cravings
If going gluten-free has changed your life for the better, please leave a comment below. I love hearing from you!
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