There are a few reasons why I went gluten-free. Now before I get into any of it, I do want to say that eating gluten isn’t bad. It’s not the devil nor will it kill you. It was a personal choice along with a choice my body was asking me to make after dealing with health issues caused by gluten consumption. I’m not a doctor but I am a soon-to-be clinical nutritionist as well as a human being. So, I know how my body reacted to it and the reactions it caused with certain people I’ve worked with. I didn’t choose to be gluten-free because it was fad, I chose it so I can live a healthier life for myself with my body ending up thanking me.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is one of the many proteins found in wheat, cereals, grains, barley, and rye. This particular protein helps food hold its shape, almost like a glue holding everything together. Now, if you have Celiac Disease, you are allergic to gluten and should completely avoid it. There are other proteins found in these foods that people with Celiac may not be allergic to, but it can be difficult to test. Gluten itself is made up of two proteins called glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is what causes the trouble whether you have Celiac or just gluten intolerance.
Non- Celiac Gluten Intolerance
You can still have an issue with gluten even if you tested negative for Celiac Disease. Studies show that gluten particles entering our blood stream can cause severe intestinal damage (lead to leaky gut, inflammation, etc.), neuropathy, depression, anxiety, autism, and schizophrenia, and many autoimmune diseases (including Type 1 diabetes and thyroid diseases). Non- celiac gluten intolerance is also associated with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic low-back pain. (Schierling, 2016).
Let’s dive back to that leaky gut that I mentioned. Your health is determined by your gut. Sounds weird, but your gut microbiome is where all your genetic material, bacteria, and microorganisms live which determine both your physical h
“Gluten free” products
Okay, hope you’re not super freaked out by all this. But it’s good to be mindful especially when you make the choice to be gluten-free. What’s the next step? Grocery shopping for gluten-free foods! The isles have a wide array of gluten-free products (oh the glorious cookies, cakes, and even crackers). So easy then, right! Just buy anything that is labeled “gluten-free” and off you go. Sorry to burst your bubble but, unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Many of the products labeled “gluten-free” are filled with sugar, artificial ingredients, GMO corn and soy. Reading labels and ingredients on products will really help. If there are a ton of ingredients you can’t pronounce and the list is as long as you, then maybe it’s not healthy to eat (whether labeled gluten free or not). Look for whole ingredients, no added sugars, and FRESH food.
How it changed my health
When I was a kid, I loved anything that included bread, pretty much like any other kid. But the kids that grew up in Brooklyn, like me, knew what good bagels, pizza, and bread straight from the Italian bakery tastes like. So I used to devour it all. But I took a lot of naps, felt depressed and anxious all the time, had severe asthma, and just plain felt sick… A LOT,especially right after eating those foods. I didn’t know what was happening but I did know that when I ate those foods, I didn’t feel good afterwards.
Fast forward (very forward) to my early twenties when I went back to college to pursue my nutrition degree. Throughout recent years, I learned that not only was my anxiety and depression correlated with my extreme gluten intake but so was my Hashimoto’s (which is an autoimmune thyroid condition). I did a lot of research, educated myself, and learned more in my grad program (still am) while eliminating gluten (and dairy) from my lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had gluten since I made this decision. But only on special occasions. But even holidays, my mom cooks from the autoimmune paleo cookbooks so I can still have a lot of my favorite dishes, but just modified to fit my needs.
So, after eliminating all of this you’re probably wondering how I feel. Well, I feel probably the best I’ve ever felt. But I can still feel better. I’m always experimenting, learning and, in a sense, even appreciating my autoimmune crap. It’s made me more mindful of my body and what it needs, what it doesn’t need, and what makes me feel good and what doesn’t. Of course, consult with your doctor first before making any severe changes to your health regimen.
If you take away one thing from this post, I hope it’s to learn to go with the natural flow of your body and to always ask questions. If you feel sick from certain foods or just “not right” don’t ignore it. Make peace with it and move on to learn how to fix it.
Gundry, S. (2017). The Plant Paradox. Harper Collins. New York, New York.
Schierling, R. (2016). Gluten sensitivity as related to autoimmunity. Destroy Chronic Pain.