There has been a lot of hype about this component found in most diets today. Chances are that you or someone you know has tried cutting out the protein found in common grains by going gluten free. Gluten is harmful to the brain and wreaks havoc on gut health. Now, research is finally catching up to what many alternative health professionals already knew.
What is so harmful about our daily bread? Gluten is made up of two proteins called glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin being responsible for most of the negative effects, it irritates the digestive system and will trigger an autoimmune response. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, you are still likely having a reaction to gluten and may not consider your symptoms to be associated with ingesting the protein. Hidden symptoms like depression, anxiety, weight gain, digestive problems, acne, eczema and psoriasis, watery eyes, and heightened sensitivity are all caused by ingesting gluten.
There are many health benefits to giving up on gluten other than a reduction in symptoms. People eating a gluten free diet will likely give up many processed foods as well, resulting in less added sugar and sodium in their diets. Many will also have the benefit of eating more nutrient dense foods since fruits, veggies, and nuts are the easiest gluten free options. Of course just because someone kicks gluten for good, doesn’t always mean that their diet is healthy. Simply replacing gluten laced junk food with gluten free junk food doesn’t warrant much improvement. If eating a diet that is still high in sugar and refined carbohydrates (as in almost any processed food) the spike in blood sugar and inflammation will quickly outweigh any benefit of going gluten free.
If you are considering ditching this pesky little endosperm (the tissue produced by the seeds that make flour), the best way is to make it a priority to eat fresh whole foods that are naturally gluten free. It can be overwhelming to think of the challenges that come with alternative eating habits. If you feel like eliminating these foods will bring grief, here are some great grain substitutes:
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Oats (they are gluten-free, but can be contaminated during processing so check for certified gluten-free on the label)
The most important thing to remember about adopting a gluten free diet is to be patient. It could take up to six months to see improvements in your health and to feel confident about your food choices.