Unless you have been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly heard all the gluten hype and most likely know someone who follows a gluten free lifestyle. In my opinion, this is with good reason!
In terms of gut health and healing leaky gut, I typically recommend eliminating gluten. With a dysbiotic gut, we can’t break down and digest gluten, therefore gluten disrupts our gut and affects the gut lining. Over time we develop openings in our gut lining – leaky gut- and the protein in gluten leaks through and gets into our blood stream. This alerts our immune system and over time causes chronic inflammation. More often than not, many people develop a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten and in some cases, people actually have allergies or a condition called Celiac disease, which is gluten actually makes them very sick. With all of that being said, EVERYONE can benefit from eliminating gluten. Chronic inflammation is at epidemic proportions in this country and we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt that chronic inflammation causes disease.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein that is found in a variety of different grains. Many people think about wheat as being gluten, but it can also be found in rye, oats, and barley. The gluten protein is made up of other proteins, including glutenin and gliadin. These are often more closely linked to people that have negative reactions in the form of a gluten allergy or Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition of the small intestine. The symptoms are slightly different when comparing an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten as opposed to actually being allergic to it.
Common Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
When you have a intolerance to gluten, your symptoms can range from mild discomfort and abdominal pain, to some of the more common signs of being allergic to gluten. First of all, you might find that you have abdominal discomfort or indigestion when you consume foods with a lot of wheat or rye. There are actually many regular food items that contain wheat or other grains, that you would otherwise think are harmless. You may eat a simple sandwich with wheat bread and suddenly find that your stomach is hurting and you might even have diarrhea or nausea. Some other common symptoms include headaches, skin changes, and allergy symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and runny nose.
Surprisingly, you don’t have to have apparent symptoms to suffer the consequences of consuming gluten. Remember, gluten is a major culprit when it comes to leaky gut and chronic inflammation. Gluten also mimics thyroid tissue, which alerts the immune system to attack. When this happens, the thyroid is attack which leads to an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s goes undiagnosed daily because many doctors just don’t test for it. Yet another reason to eliminate gluten!
In terms of gut dysbiosis or bacterial imbalances, it is imperative that we eliminate gluten so that we can begin to rebalance the microbiome. If not, we are more susceptible to issues like SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrown as well as candida overgrowth not to mention bacterial infections.
A gluten intolerance is never life-threatening whereas, a gluten allergy can be. Again, working with a functional practitioner for proper testing is key when diagnosing.
If you are found to have a gluten sensitivity, I highly recommend taking it out of the equation. In terms of leaky gut, which a high percentage of the population has, I always recommend eliminating gluten foods so that we can begin the process of healing the gut lining. The more foods you eat with gluten, the worse you are going to end up feeling. They might not cause serious illness like if you had Celiac disease, but gluten can definitely make you feel ill. If you want those stomach aches and migraines to go away, stay away from foods with wheat, rye, or barley. This includes most breads, grains, pasta, and a wide range of packaged and processed foods. You should try to stick to a diet consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein like meat.
Lastly, pay attention to products that say “gluten free”. Most of the time, these products are processed and have hidden sugars and preservative. Also keep an eye out for ingredients that can be hidden in foods claiming to be gluten free.
If you think you may have a gluten allergy or Celiac, I recommend working with a functional practitioner for proper testing. You can also visit Celiac.com for more information. For a list of unsafe ingredients pertaining to Celiac you can visit this LINK for more information.
Remember, when healing our gut lining and rebalancing our gut microbiome, it is key to eliminate gluten for a period of 4-6 weeks. In order to truly heal, we have to be committed so always reach out for support.
Cheers to you best live!