Gluten free products are all the rage, companies are taking great pride in marketing the GF stamp on their products and health experts are increasingly touting the benefits of avoiding gluten. But what exactly is Gluten and who needs to be free of it?
Gluten is a protein made up of the peptides gliadin and glutenin found in grains that give elasticity and chewiness to breads, bagels, pasta, cereals etc. It is also found in salad dressings, soy sauce, deli meats, flavoured chips and many other products as a thickener or a stabilizing ingredient. Gluten is present in many medications, supplements and even beauty products.
And the problem with Gluten is?
Once gluten reaches the gut an enzyme called tTg breaks it down into gliadin and glutenin and the gut’s immune system reviews it for harmful substances. If the body is sensitive to gluten the immune system recognizes it as a dangerous substance and produces antibodies to attack it, if not then the proteins are absorbed.
It is the job of tTg to hold the microvilli together which exist so that the surface area of the intestine is increased, and maximum nutrients are absorbed from the intestine walls into the body. But if the antibodies are released then the microvilli can erode over time causing less absorption of nutrients and the breakdown of tight junctions that are holding the intestines together leading to gaps in the intestine walls making the intestine leaky, this is called Leaky Gut.
A Leaky Gut allows all undigested food particles, antibodies, and toxins to leave the intestines prematurely and enter the bloodstream where they are not welcomed. The escaped antibodies are the same that attacked gliadin in the first place. This then manifests the following symptoms:
* Unformed bowels
* Abdominal Discomfort
* Iron deficiency due to malabsorption
* Low vitamin D due to malabsorption
* Fatigue after meals
* Low energy
* Brain fog
But our ancestors ate gluten and they didn’t have this problem so what’s changed now?
In North America the agriculture focus for many years has been to grow wheat that is drought resistant, bug resistant and faster growing so what we are eating is a Hybridized grain. Hybridized grain has ‘new’ proteins that the original wheat plants did not have, and these new proteins are thought to be the cause of gluten intolerance, higher rates of celiac disease and increased inflammation and disease. Additionally, because gluten is so heavily relied upon in packaged foods it has been deamidated, meaning it is water soluble and easy to mix into food that needs to be shelf stable. The deamidation is further adding to the problem.
The quality of wheat we are eating today is much different from the wheat our ancestors ate and the quantity we are consuming is much higher then what they had, and these are the reasons that gluten sensitivity has increased substantially in the last 50 years. In fact, many people today are suffering from gluten sensitivity but sadly don’t even know it as they are not diagnosed.
Which foods contain gluten?
All store-bought breads, pasta, cakes, cereals, bagels, doughnuts, muffins etc. contain gluten UNLESS its is specified that they are gluten-free.
Gluten is found in: Wheat (including semolina, durum wheat, kamut, spelt, farina, bulgar, matzo, couscous and more), Rye, Barley, Malt and Brewers Yeast.
Gluten may also be found in: Oats, ketchup, malt flavouring, seasonings, sauces, dips, dressings, food starch, energy bars, puddings, flavoured potato chips, canned soups etc.
Gluten may be hiding under the following names in packaged foods: Hydrolysate, Natural flavouring, Hydrolyzed soy protein, Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, brown rice syrup, caramel colour, yeast extract, modified food starch, fermented grain extract and more.
How do I know if I am Gluten sensitive?
If you regularly eat (or have in the past eaten) a lot of gluten rich foods and have some of the symptoms mentioned above, then there is a good possibility that you are Gluten Intolerant.
If you suspect that that you are gluten intolerant you can talk to your primary health care practioner for options.
In my Practice I offer a urine test to my clients which confirms their gluten status, and the suggested protocol almost always results in my clients seeing immense improvement in their overall health.
I can’t give up Gluten, what if I keep eating it and put up with the symptoms?
The symptoms will get worst; the number of food intolerances will increase, digestive problems will worsen, joint problems will exacerbate as well as you will experience more brain fog and less mental focus and clarity. You may also develop thyroid issues and will most likely experience increased inflammation in the body which makes for a happy home for cancer and cardiovascular disease to develop.
What can I start today to mitigate the risks associated with Gluten sensitivity?
The elimination diet which means you remove all gluten containing foods for 30 days and see how you feel. After 30 days slowly introduce gluten containing foods and watch for any symptoms, if your symptoms return it means you are gluten intolerant.
If your daily diet consists of generous amounts of gluten containing foods, you may be wondering about what you can eat. Don’t fret there are many foods that are gluten free, here is a list of some of them:
Quinoa, buckwheat, rice, sorghum, gluten-free oats, millet, nut flours, fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes and dairy products (if you consume them).
Remember, if you have any questions you are welcome to book your complimentary call with Wellness Redone at firstname.lastname@example.org.