GF, Gluten Free, should you go gluten free?
Okay, so what’s up with all these things that we see all over the places that it is gluten free? Is gluten the bad guy, unhealthy, does it cause diseases?
What is gluten? Let’s define it!
GF – Gluten Free. Gluten is a group of protein found primarily in wheat products. Gluten is what makes that gooey, stretchy, elastic bit of bread and other baked goods. Gluten is made up of groups of proteins of which one of them is called Gliadin. Gliadin is what is thought to be the primary cause of Celiac. When people with Celiac disease eat gluten containing food, the body triggers an immune response in your small intestine. This immune reaction is what causes damages to your small intestine’s lining. The damaged lining can result in malabsorption of nutrients as well as trigger symptoms such as
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Headache and fatigue
- Poor growth in children
How do you test for celiac? The GP will test for Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies in your blood. If you have Celiac disease, the test will most likely come back positive. This antibody is actually attacking the enzymes (tissue transglutaminase) that breaks down gluten. To enable an accurate test result, you have to be on a diet that contains gluten (6 weeks). Otherwise, the antibody that reacts to the gluten will not show up on the test.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your healthy cells thinking it is a foreign invader.
A lot of other disease are classified as autoimmune such as
· Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of joints)
· Lupus (tissues throughout the body)
· Multiple Scoliosis (demyelination of nerve cells)
· Ankylosing spondylitis (inflammation affecting your spine)
· Hashimoto’s disease (Thyroid)
· Grave’s disease (thyroid)
· Type 1 diabetes (Pancreas)
· Addison’s disease (Adrenal)
· Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (complex disorder of profound fatigue)
· Psoriasis (skin)
· Ulcerative Colitis (inflammation of the bowel)
· Crohn’s disease (lining of intestines)
· Guillain-Barre Syndrome (nerve controlling muscles)
There are more but it is mind blowing to see the list of autoimmune diseases. My recommendation for anyone with an autoimmune disease is to go off gluten for a period of at least 6 weeks to see if they feel any different. This is because a gluten free diet has a protective effect on other autoimmune diseases (PMID: 19412015). Also, 25% of people with autoimmune disease have a tendency to develop other autoimmune disorder (PMID: 21977137).
So why all of a sudden in the last decade have we all got so sensitive to gluten?
I found a good article that explains how our grain have changed over the years (please see ‘What’s wrong with modern wheat’ https://grainstorm.com/pages/modern-wheat). It gives you a different perspective of how you look at a bag of flour in the supermarket now.
Should you go gluten free if you don’t have celiac disease? Well, now that you know how our wheat has changed over the years it is advisable to reduce the amount of wheat we consume.
Instead of having bread for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner, include more varieties. It can be something like fruit salad with yoghurt for breakfast, bean salad with tuna for lunch and stir fry for dinner for example.
Most times, ‘gluten free’ varieties disguised as the healthy option in the supermarket can do more harm than good. This is because instead of wheat flour, they use things like rice starch, tapioca starch and potato starch as substitutes. They are also highly refined and processed causing your blood sugar to spike! And you will be paying twice as much and thinking it is a healthier option!
So, what is the solution?
Stick to whole foods and consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetable. Reduce the amount of gluten containing foods. Ignore products that are marketed as ‘gluten free’ and stick to real food.
For more information about
- how to reduce your gluten consumption in your diet
- gluten free recipes
- discuss further about your digestion
Please get in touch with me.