Going gluten-free was a big decision for me back in 2010. It took me over a year to come to terms with the fact that I needed to make the change, but it seemed so daunting. I can tell you right now with 100% confidence that it was well worth the radical shift and effort to remove it completely.
I began to see immediate shifts, for the better, in my health. It took an accidental exposure, after being vigilant for over four years to realize it was still affecting my body. I went into a 5-day, coma-like stupor of the kind of fatigue you just can’t pull out of with extra caffeine or sleep. That’s when I knew my body still could not tolerate gluten; it was not through blood work that I discovered this either. But through removal, strict avoidance, and being really in-tune with my body.
More about my own story another time, suffice it to say, many people today are becoming intolerant to gluten. It’s not just a passing fad, it’s a legitimate health issue and I want to start to unpack it just a little bit for you in this series.
More than ever, we’re seeing more people eat gluten-free foods, grocery and convenience stores adding gluten-free products to their shelves, and numerous restaurants offering gluten-free options to their menus. Is this just another “diet” fad or is there really a gluten epidemic occurring?
Research has estimated that 18 million Americans suffer from gluten sensitivity and 3 million Americans have celiac disease today. Gluten has become a huge problem for many individuals and is damaging their health.
What is Gluten & Why is It Bad?
For a refresher, gluten is a protein found in wheat and related grains, such as barley, rye, oat, and spelt.
“When flour is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form a sticky network that has a glue-like consistency. This glue-like property makes the dough elastic, and gives bread the ability to rise when baked. It also provides a chewy, satisfying texture.” (Source)
People who have celiac, which is considered an autoimmune disease, their immune system will attack the gluten when it reaches the digestive tract because the body thinks it’s a foreign invader, like bacteria. However, not only does the body attack the gluten, it also attacks the intestinal wall itself, causing major problems like nutrient deficiencies, digestives issues, anemia, fatigue, and other health-related issues.
If you are not diagnosed with celiac but show similar symptoms and have a hard time digesting gluten, then this is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. “There is no attack on the body’s own tissues. However, many of the symptoms are similar to those in celiac disease, including bloating, stomach pain, fatigue, diarrhea, as well as pain in the bones and joints.” (Source)
3 Reasons Why You Should Consider Going Gluten-Free
Many health experts believe gluten is harmful to everyone, not just those with gluten intolerances or celiac disease. Here are the top three reasons you may want to consider going gluten-free.
1. The creation of modern wheat is far more dangerous than ancient wheat.
According to the New York Times bestseller Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, we are not consuming the same wheat and grains that our grandparents or great-grandparents consumed. Over the centuries, wheat has evolved and it has dramatically changed within the last 50 years under the influence of agricultural scientists. “Wheat strains have been hybridized, crossbred, and introgressed to make the wheat plant resistant to environmental changes…But most of all, genetic changes have been induced to increase yield per acre. The average yield on a modern North American farm is more than tenfold greater than farms of a century ago” (Rodale, 2011, Chapter 2, p. 14).
Now that we have modern commercial wheat production, companies are more concerned about “delivering features such as increased yield, decreased production costs, and large-scale production of a consistent commodity” than they are about human health. They are not taking health issues into consideration or questioning if their methods are compatible with human health and consumption (Rodale, 2011, Chapter 2, p. 18).
2. Glyphosate is being sprayed on wheat fields.
“Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is recognized as the world’s most widely used weed killer. What is not so well known is that farmers also use glyphosate on crops such as wheat, oats, edible beans and other crops right before harvest, raising concerns that the herbicide could get into food products.” (Source)
Before wheat can be harvested, it must be dry, but many farmers were having problems getting their wheat to dry evenly. Therefore, they turned to using glyphosate one to two weeks before harvesting the plants to help accelerate the drying process of the grain.
Using glyphosate on our foods is quite alarming because glyphosate may be the cause for cancer and other health-related problems. So when this is being sprayed on our food and we eat it, we’re exposing our bodies to this harmful, toxic herbicide.
3. Gluten can cause damage your health and wreak havoc on your body.
As mentioned above, any person, with or without celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, may experience gut irritants or notice negative bodily reactions when they consume gluten.
Here are some other ways gluten can damage your health:
- Gut inflammation
- Intestinal permeability
- Damage the gut biome (aka glut flora)
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating and gas
- Brain fog
- Skin problems
If you are experiencing any of these issues, you may want to try going gluten-free for a few weeks to see how your body reacts. You have nothing to lose and may be surprised by the results.
If you wish to read more about going gluten-free, Dr. Tom O’Bryan offers a lot more information on his website.
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