We have all now heard of Gluten. But do we all know what it is and why we ‘should’ be avoiding it?
Cutting gluten from my diet was a huge factor in my recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (though I didn’t know it at the time), in shrinking my goitre and significantly reducing many of my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis symptoms.
But, many people think that going “gluten-free” is a fad and that it’s just the latest dieting craze, and for some that is true. For others it is the difference between health and disease – and sometimes that disease is Cancer, sometimes it’s Crohn’s, which could mean losing your intestine, and sometimes it is an autoimmune disease that could continue to attack your body.
Many people don’t know if they should be avoiding gluten or not. These people tend to dabble in gluten-free living. They perhaps buy some items from the “free-from” ranges that now adorn supermarket aisles and feel somewhat virtuous when they manage to consume a gluten-free sandwich (if, of course, it holds together long enough it eat it). But does eating mostly gluten-free count? And what exactly is gluten anyway?
What is Gluten?
- Gluten is a complex of proteins found naturally in the seeds of cereal grains.
- The gluten protein types that can cause adverse reactions are glutelins (glutenin) and prolamins (gliadin).
- These proteins are also responsible for the unique properties of gluten, which make it so appealing for baking – trapping air to enable dough to rise, giving elasticity to bread and dough as well as a chewy texture.
- Gluten-containing seeds include: bulgar wheat, durum wheat, barley, rye, kamut, faro, graham, semolina, triticale, einkorn and spelt.
- Gluten is used as a protein supplement (particularly in Asian cultures e.g. seitan), as a thickener in sauces, flavourings, medications, stock cubes and sweets.
- Gluten is much more widespread in the Western diet, where processed food is more common and widely available.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
The term “Gluten intolerance” is often used to describe three conditions:
- Celiac (coeliac) Disease: Autoimmune disease, where the body responds with an overreactive adaptive immune response, triggered by gliadin and primarily concerning the small intestine. It may manifest several hours or days after consuming gluten. This response harms the delicate villi structures and lining of the intestine responsible for nutrient absorption. An inflammation response may also occur leading to leaky gut syndrome – where large proteins pass through the gut lining, and often leading to chronic poor health and the development of other intolerances. Celiac disease can be confirmed by a blood test for the relevant antibodies and biopsy, though negative results do not mean that you don’t have it.
- Wheat Allergy: Strictly speaking is and allergy and not an intolerance. This is an immediate and often severe histamine reaction to the presence of wheat (not specifically gluten). People may develop hives, shortness of breath and swelling – this is known as Type 1 hypersensitivity and is a different type of immune response to that of Celiac disease.
- Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS): This is the least well defined of the gluten intolerances. Currently, people who test negative for Celiac disease and who do not present with wheat allergy, but still feel unwell upon eating gluten are labeled with NCGS. They likely also have a “leaky gut” and a host of symptoms associated with a malfunctioning digestive system. People particularly susceptible include those with an autoimmune disease.
Should I quit Gluten?
Cutting gluten from your diet if you aren’t gluten intolerant is unnecessary, but many people are unsure. If you suffer from digestive issues –irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, bloating, cramps, discomfort, weight problems, if you have dry skin and rashes or if you feel very tired after eating gluten and have difficulty concentrating – it’s likely you have a problem with gluten. In which case, going gluten-free will:
- Help you achieve good long-term health
- Alleviate symptoms
- Increase your energy and improve your mood
Going gluten-free can be overwhelming as it’s in so many things and many of us include it in every meal and snack. You may wonder what on Earth you can eat on a gluten-free diet!
On June 24th I am launching my Go Gluten-free online coaching package. This is a 4-week package that will guide you safely through the tricky transition to gluten-free living. I provide you with information and tools so you can make informed decisions about your health and then implement lasting change. I also enable you to conclusively determine whether you are gluten intolerant and I’ll be on hand to answer your questions. Read more HERE or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
25% Early Bird Discount if you register by June 17th! Just £30 to transform your health!
Look after your health and be well!
P.S. Did you read my post “Is your immune system attacking you?”, you might find it useful in reaching your health goals!