Giving up gluten takes a real commitment, because you’ll find gluten in most packaged and processed foods. Going gluten free means that you’ll either make most of your food from scratch at home, become intimately familiar with the gluten-free sections of the major health food chain, or you’ll quickly memorize a list of gluten-free restaurants in your locale. Most likely, you’ll roll all three into your daily life.
What is Gluten?
At its simplest, gluten is not a grain but rather a protein composite (several proteins) that is present in some grains such as wheat, barley and rye. In fact, it is present in most “cereal grains.”
Why Go Gluten Free?
People eliminate gluten from their diet for any number of reasons. Look through the list below. If any of these reasons rings a bell, you might want to consider a gluten-free diet.
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that affects about one in a hundred people. The disease damages the small intestine, and it interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from foods. Celiac disease is also an auto-immune disease. When an affected person eats any gluten, the body begins to attack itself. If you suffer from this disease, you know that living with this disease is the most important reason to give up gluten. If you even suspect you have celiac disease, eliminate all gluten even before heading to your doctor.
Food (Wheat) Allergies
While you could think of celiac disease an extreme allergy to gluten, we’re talking basic, run-of-the-mill allergies in this example. Many people are allergic to wheat, and by giving up wheat, you’re already giving up one of the most prevalent food ingredients that contains gluten. Many people with wheat allergies go the extra mile and eliminate gluten completely from their diet.
Most everything that contains gluten is anathema to those on a restricted-carb diet. If you go gluten free, you’ve already removed most of the foods (other than sugar) that you must avoid on a carb-restricted diet.
Gluten induces an inflammatory response in the body. Chronic inflammation is actually a hidden disease. TIME magazine called it the hidden killer. Chronic inflammation sets up immune reactions and even leads to degenerative (old-age) diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It also plays a role in multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders. One of the best and easiest ways to reduce inflammation is to eliminate gluten.
This is a condition where toxins actually “leak” from the gut into the bloodstream. According to James A. Ferrel, M.D., leaky-gut syndrome “may explain many of the symptoms patients have that confound and confuse many physicians. In my opinion Leaky Gut Syndrome is grossly under considered as a ‘mainstream’ medicine diagnosis.”
With gluten as a known problem in so many maladies and so many other appetizing foods from which to choose, is it any wonder that more people are giving up gluten and that more shelf space is now devoted to gluten-free foods—even in conventional grocery stores? Unless you have celiac disease, you can consider removing gluten as an experiment, because you can always incorporate it back into your diet at a later date.