First, not everyone should give up gluten – for many it is a fad! There are many good reasons to give it up, however.
The single most important would be if you tested positive for celiac disease. However, that’s only a very small percentage of people (about 1%).
The second would be if you notice a sensitivity to it. Common symptoms include foggy brain, depression, ADHD-like behavior, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain and chronic fatigue. If you have these symptoms, a guided elimination diet (of gluten and other foods) is one tool I use to help my clients determine if food sensitivities may be at the root of their symptoms.
Another important reason to give up gluten is if you have an autoimmune condition such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s, Multiple Sclerosis or many others. Gluten triggers the release of zonulin, which causes a loosening of the tight junctions in your intestinal wall to, creating intestinal permeability or leaky gut. This allows proteins, toxins, partially digested food and microbes to pass out of your intestines and into your bloodstream, triggering an immune reaction. Gluten also causes inflammation, which is a precursor to autoimmune diseases. When your system is overloaded with inflammation and frequent overstimulation of your immune system, it begins to attack indiscriminately, often targeting your own tissues, which is what autoimmune diseases are.
In addition, the gluten molecule resembles your body’s own tissues, particularly your thyroid, confusing your immune system. So when gluten is eaten, it attacks both the gluten and your own cells. Casein, the protein in dairy, is also similar in form to gluten and can also trigger similar confusion and autoimmune disease.
Giving up a food that forms the base of your diet can seem impossible, scary or just not fun. Part of my work is to help you determine the foods and recipes that you both love and that help you feel your best so that you can focus more on what you can eat rather than what you can’t eat.
If you need help with an elimination diet to find the root cause of your unexplained symptoms, or you want help reversing your autoimmune condition naturally, I can set up an individualized program for you. E-mail me for more information. I work with clients in person in Tucson, Arizona and all over the country via videochat or phone.