Gluten is a protein found in seeds of grains such as Barley, Wheat, and Rye. Gluten is Latin for “glue”. It gives elasticity to dough. According to many studies, Gluten Sensitivity, also known as Gluten Intolerance is affecting many people today. Many do not realize it because the effects of this intolerance don’t always reveal themselves in easily recognizable symptoms. The most common set of symptoms recorded are IBS-like stomach problems, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, numbness, and depression, but there are many more symptoms that have been loosely linked to gluten intake.
Dr. Hyman calls gluten a “tsunami of chronic illness”. He offers great insight to the dangers of gluten on his website. He also explains why gluten is a problem for up to 20 million Americans, even though 99% of the people don’t realize they are affected. Dr. Hyman suggests eliminating gluten from your diet for two to six weeks to find out if you are gluten sensitive. If you loose weight and your symptoms disappear, most likely gluten is a problem for you. To verify your finding, try adding gluten back into your diet. If your symptoms reappear, then this verifies you are sensitive to gluten. There is also gene testing available to show if you have the gluten intolerant gene.
Dr. AL Sears’s states that the longer gluten intolerance is left untreated, the worse the outcome can become. Unfortunately, gluten intolerance is one of the most misdiagnosed conditions out there. If left untreated, gluten intolerance could cause cancer, reduced blood flow to the brain, Vitamin D deficiency, and thyroid disease to name a few. Dr. Al Sears states that our gut does not know what to do with the grain products we eat today. He states that our “gut brain” thinks gluten is a foreign substance and that when gluten reaches the gut, it panics. The gut reacts by sending antibodies to attack this unknown substance, which causes the immune system to become hyper alert with autoimmune components. This can cause your body to attack its own tissue. When the immune system attacks, it damages the villi in the small intestine that absorbs nutrients from food, so they can’t absorb the vitamins and minerals your body needs to live.
Dr. James Baum offers a scientific explanation of why so many people are gluten intolerant. He states that gluten intolerance is a direct result of the genetic alteration in the gluten content of wheat, barley, rye, and spelt. The nature of toxicity to gluten stems from the chemical nature of gluten in relation to the immune system of individuals with genes that recognize gluten as a foreign protein and is therefore toxic. Patients with gluten intolerance produce a T-cell mediated autoimmune response to the ingestion of gluten related proteins. More specifically the gliadins and glutenins found in wheat, the hordeins in barley, and the secalins found in rye. These dietary proteins have been genetically altered through thousands of years of cultivation to be rich in praline and glutamine, which produce the gluten intolerance. This immune response not only causes damage to the small intestine, but also stimulates many disease processes in the body.
I have been mostly gluten free for more than 5 years now; I call it eating gluten light. Trying the gluten free diet was a life changing experience for me. I immediately lost weight, felt re-energized, and my headaches disappeared completely. Through the years, friends, family, & co-workers have also tried going gluten free. Most people reported symptom improvements, and weight loss. Everyone seems to have notice an increase in energy. A tip for those of you who would like to try gluten free—be careful not to replace all the gluten items you used to eat such as cake, pie and other desserts with the corn and rice alternatives, which may contain more calories.
Thinking about going wheat/gluten free? Here is a great site offering a nice list of gluten free food options:
***Disclaimer: All writing here reflects my personal opinions and does not carry a medical or licensed recommendation of advice or care. Always consult your personal physician in matters related to health or dietary advice