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Why be wheat free and gluten free?
Have you noticed the large collection of gluten free products at the grocery store lately? Or maybe you know someone who has celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or just a friend that has decided to go on a wheat free and gluten free diet and you’re not really sure what the big deal is. After working with clients with celiac disease in my fitness classes and reading the book Wheat Bellyby Dr William Davis I became rather intrigued with a wheat free and gluten free diet and decided to do more research. I am now even attempting the wheat belly diet myself to see what happens. I can tell you one thing all this fuss about gluten is no mistake.
So what exactly is gluten? Gluten is the main protein found in wheat and many grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt, bul gur, kamut, and triticale. It gives elasticity to dough and gives texture and chewiness to baked goods. Unfortunately, gluten is in a lot of our favorite foods including bread, pasta, muffins, pizza, cookies, crackers, chips, condiments, and more. Wheat is the most dominate source of gluten in our diet and is used most often in baking and creating of many boxed foods and snacks. I know giving up gluten may sound hopeless, but don’t give up yet, because it is possible and can actually be enjoyable!
Gluten intolerance and celiac disease is on the rise and it’s not just due to chance. The high levels of wheat and gluten in our diet today really isn’t natural. Caveman didn’t gorge on bread, pasta, and desserts like we do today, so deep down a part of you must scratch your head at the idea of eating a diet of mostly grain based foods as a truly healthy way of life.
Additionally, gluten based products, especially wheat, aren’t the same as they once were. Over the last 50 years, gluten crops have been tampered with in the lab and genetically modified by scientists to resist drought, heat, and fungus as well as grow faster and make a tastier bread or dessert that cooks easier. These modifications have increased the gluten content of these grains and have changed the structure of these gluten containing foods, which our bodies don't seem to be adapting to so nicely (as you'll see with some of the lovely symptoms below). Additionally, there hasn't been any testing on genetically modified grains to prove these modifications are even safe to eat. So even if you don’t have celiac disease, eliminating gluten may be a good idea.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance are not pretty. These symptoms include headaches, irritability, depression, fatigue, stomach aches, bloating, gas, diarrhea, aching joints, nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorbtion, infertility, irregular menstrual cycle, and many other not so fun bodily reactions. The variety of symptoms can make it rather difficult to diagnose and gluten intolerance as a cause often goes overlooked.
So what are some of the other negative side effects of eating wheat and gluten on the body? Gluten…
- Stimulates your appetite. Yes, gluten products can make you hungrier, thus make you eat more food and calories, and make you fatter!
- Is addictive. Making you crave them more and eat them more, and even get cranky when you don’t have them.
- Causes inflammation. Celiac disease is inflammation in the small intestine where the intestinal barrier actually breaks down and leaks fecal matter. Yes POOH actually leaks into your body and bloodstream! Ewww! This can also lead to other autoimmune disorders and inflammatory responses.
- Disrupts the bodies PH balance. Wheat and gluten grains can be very acidic. To maintain balance, the body pulls calcium from the bones. This can lead to fractures and osteoporosis. And no, overloading on calcium supplements isn’t going to work here.
- Increases blood sugar and risk of diabetes. Wheat bread actually increases your blood sugar levels as much or more than table sugar. What does this mean? Here let me illustrate:
Increased Blood Sugar = Increased Insulin = A FATTER, UNHEALTHIER YOU!
I’ll admit giving up gluten is not easy. It definitely takes some planning, but is well worth the benefits such as improved mood, increased ability to concentrate, better sleep, increased energy, and weight loss. So I hope you’ll consider going wheat free and gluten free.
So what are your thoughts? Have you tried a wheat free and gluten free diet? Are you planning to start one? If so I’d love to hear your thoughts below and stay tuned as there are many more articles coming on this topic!