In my clinics, I have helped hundreds of clients follow a proper elimination diet. Of all the food irritants in the diet, I believe gluten is one of the major disruptors to gut health and can also heighten the inflammatory response and worsen neurological symptoms.
To clear up some of the gluten confusion that might exist (and no – it is not just a fad!), I have outlined a few of the most common questions I receive below.
What is gluten?
Gluten is the general term for a group of proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten acts as the “glue” that holds the grain together and allows it to keep its shape.
Gluten can be found in breads, pastas, doughs, baked goods, cereals, and more unsuspecting places like cross-contaminated oats, soy sauce, salad dressings, condiments, deli meats, cheeses, fried foods, candy, alcohol, medications, supplements, cosmetics, and more.
Is gluten bad for everyone?
Gluten isn’t “good” for you -but some people have little to no reaction to it. If you are celiac, you absolutely must go off gluten strictly. However, there is a growing part of the population that is showing up as sensitive to gluten and reacting to it poorly (more on the “why that is” below).
For example, I am not celiac, but I am very sensitive to gluten and react with joint pain, bloating and inflammation – not worth it!
Common symptoms I would remove gluten from the diet when seeing a client would include;
· Auto immune disease
· Skin issues – psoriasis, eczema, acne
· Gut disorder – inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel
· Brain fog
· Chronic inflammation
· Persistent neurological symptoms
· Joint pain
I also have found removing gluten from certain clients diets has helped their weight loss tremendously.
Why can I eat gluten in Europe (i.e. Italy) – but feel lousy when I eat it back home in Canada or the USA?
I am sure you have heard people say that they can tolerate wheat in Europe but cannot eat the wheat in Canada or the USA . What is the reason for this? Here are a few potential explanations.
1) Most of the wheat grown in North America is hard, red wheat which in higher in protein and gluten. In Europe, most of the wheat is soft wheat which is lower in gluten.
2) North American wheat is covered in glyphosate – a commonly used herbicide. If a North American farmer wants to prepare their wheat for harvest, they will often spray it with glyphosate in order to “dry it out” quicker (this is a much faster option than letting it dry naturally). This practice is not widespread in Europe. Studies have shown glyphosate may be linked to several health conditions such as cancer, liver and kidney issues and gut disruption.
How long do I have to eliminate gluten for?
When you first go off gluten, some people will see a change in a very short time (5-7 days), while it may take a little longer for others to see improvement. I take clients off gluten for a minimum of a 3-month period.
Do I have to avoid gluten forever?
This is an interesting question. Some of my clients are able to repair their health and gut with an elimination diet and then eat higher quality wheat products very sparingly (i.e. sourdough bread).
Others (like myself) – will always react to gluten in North America and chose to avoid it. It should be noted – I can eat gluten that comes from European countries without a reaction.
The bottom line
The suggestion of going of gluten may seem a little overwhelming at first. However, these days -there are incredible gluten free options that will make you feel like you are not missing out on a thing. Best of all, if gluten is an irritant to your system, you will start to feel better soon!
Do you have a gluten story you would like to share? I would love to hear about it! Simply e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org