Why You Should Go Gluten-Free

Photo by Louise Lyshøj on Unsplash

For a year now I have completely cut out gluten from my diet and, honestly, it has been the best decision of my life. While I genuinely do have a gluten intolerance, not everybody does. Should you eliminate gluten even if you are not sensitive to it? Yes, in my opinion, you should be either ridding your diet of this or at least trying to lower your consumption. Whether you are sensitive or not, gluten can cause reactions in every person.

How do you know if you are gluten intolerant? One way to find out is by eliminating it from your meals for a few weeks and then incorporating it back in. If you find yourself feeling fatigued or with gut issues, you might be a gal or girl who was not made to digest gluten. Have no fear though! Through my research (and my gut health), I have found reasons why you should go gluten-free and how to find out if you have an intolerance.

First off, what is gluten?
Most of us, when we hear gluten, think of bread and pizza (the two yummiest of foods). While this is true, there is a little more that goes into it. Gluten is a family of proteins, two of the main ones being glutenin and gliadin. Did I lose you? These proteins, when mixed with water, form a sticky consistency that creates the elasticity in the dough and gives the bread the ability to rise. In other words, it helps hold food together. Gluten is commonly found in
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Barley

While it is typically associated with celiac disease (an autoimmune disease that makes it difficult to digest foods), it has become more transparent that many people have issues digesting it. In some people, when gluten reaches the digestive tract, our bodies see it as a foreign invader and try to attack. With celiac disease, your body attacks not only these proteins but also the intestinal wall. If you believe you might have symptoms of this, you should always consult a physician.

So, why should I stop eating gluten?
Not everyone has sensitivities to this, but that doesn't mean you are in the clear. Whether you are sensitive or not, gluten can inflame the gut and lead to dangerous consequences. If not treated, this can lead to 'leaky gut syndrome' where the digestive walls become loose and allow bacterias and viruses into the bloodstream. It can also cause fatigue and weight gain if too much is taken in at once (hello Thanksgiving dinner).

For people with gluten intolerance, the side effects can become even more severe. Due to PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), gluten was the main component in losing my period, being unable to lose weight, and caused small bumps on my body, commonly known as keratosis pilaris. Other issues people with gluten sensitivities face are:

  • bloating
  • abdominal pain
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • depression
  • iron-deficiency anemia
  • anxiety
  • autoimmune disorders
  • muscle and joint pain
  • numbness in the arms or legs
  • hormone imbalance

The easiest way to tell if you have a sensitivity is by eliminating this food group for a small amount of time. Give yourself a month without gluten, and then incorporate it back into your life. If you notice yourself feeling miserable quickly after, you probably have an intolerance. Since deleting this from my diet, I have seen that the smallest of doses can make me feel sick for days on end. You might not feel this right now because your body has built up a low tolerance.

Since getting rid of gluten, I have noticed that my periods have regulated, my skin has drastically cleared up, I no longer have constipation issues, and I feel happier. In my opinion, gluten is not a substance that our bodies were made to consume. While the foods that contain this are delicious, there are plenty of alternatives to anything you might miss out on. One caution to eliminating this from your diet is making sure you are still incorporating the supplements from these food items into your diet.

Photo by Jonathan Farber on Unsplash

One thing most bread and cereals contain that other gluten-free products might not have is B vitamins. You also run the risk of not getting enough fiber into your diet, which helps your digestive tract working smoothly. To make sure you are not missing out on these, you can easily get a gluten-free multivitamin and incorporate other foods into your diet that consist of fiber like broccoli, lentil, avocado, and blackberries.

While it was hard in the beginning, I can honestly say I don't miss out in my day to day life. Yes, I can't order some things at a restaurant or enjoy pizzas, but gluten-free foods have become a lot more common in recent years. You can get gluten-free bread, pasta, flour, or look up recipes for certain meals you miss. I still eat my fair share of spaghetti and can even get gluten-free pizza at certain restaurants. The best part of all of this? It tastes the same, and I can go to bed not feeling miserable.

I still stress if you do think you might have a sensitivity or celiac disease that you seek a physician's opinion. While the elimination diet is one way to do it, this can also make it harder for a doctor to diagnose. It might be healthy to reduce gluten, but there are also people who genuinely suffer from an autoimmune disease. I encourage you to go to the Celiac Disease Foundation and learn more, understand the signs and symptoms, and donate if at all possible. While I might be sensitive, so many people suffer from just an ounce of gluten, and it can turn their world upside down.

Let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you would like to know or if you have any information to share. The more you know, the better you can treat your body.

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