Why have a Gluten-Free diet?
You may have heard about Gluten and gluten-free diets but are wondering what all the fuss is about.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grain species which creates the elasticity in dough, helping it to rise and giving it it’s chewy texture. It is also found in many other products such as beer and soy sauce and is also found in additives, stabilizers and thickeners in everything from luncheon meats, to ice cream and ketchup.
Many people are unable to digest gluten and in fact up to a third of the world’s population is considered by many studies to be affected by gluten intolerance or sensitivity. In serious cases gluten intolerance causes coeliac disease, an auto immune condition that causes the body’s immune system to attack it’s own tissues. This damages the surface of the small intestine and prevents the proper absorption of nutrients as well as causing diarrhea and stomach pain.
The reaction to gluten intolerance can differ from person to person but symptoms can include
• Abdominal pain
• Foggy brain
• Joint pain
• Numbness in the extremities
Over time, those who are intolerant/sensitive to gluten can develop all sorts of health problems including: dermatitis, joint pain, reproductive problems, acid reflux and other digestive conditions, autoimmune disorders, and Celiac disease. This still doesn’t mean that the rest of you aren’t experiencing some milder negative effect that isn’t manifesting itself so obviously.
Sometimes you may not be having any significant symptoms but removing gluten from your diet will make you feel significantly better. This is because sensitivity to gluten can cause low-level inflammation in your body which may manifest only as general tiredness and fatigue. You may be having indigestion, or gastric reflux or regular headaches. All these symptoms can be an indicator of gluten related inflammation.
I am not a celiac but my body can’t tolerate gluten. For me eating gluten affects my skin very badly causing acne, eczema and in bad breakouts painful and hard boils under the skin. It is a delayed reaction taking a couple of days to manifest so I often had to look back over my diet to see what I had eaten that had triggered it. Following a gluten-free diet has thankfully cleared up all these symptoms.
Many people I know, and even some of my family members also exhibit signs of gluten sensitivity/intolerance. Getting them to give up their favorite breads and pastries however, is another issue!
There is also a theory based on the Blood Type diet that people with Type O Blood like me are unable to digest gluten as our digestive systems have not evolved at the same pace as the development of agriculture. Whether this is correct or not is open to debate. All I can say is experiment for yourself and find out what works for your own particular system.
A good resource for learning more about this is the bookEat Right 4 Your Type: The Individualized Diet Solution to Staying Healthy, Living Longer & Achieving Your Ideal Weight