Going gluten-free is a hot topic these days. Is it healthy or hype? The truth is that going gluten-free is not just a trend, but a healthy habit that greatly benefits most people. In the past 50 years, wheat has been hybridized to produce a greater yield, which has also produced a higher starch and gluten content. As this scientifically engineered wheat has increased, celiac disease has increased by 400 percent! To make matters worse, reactions to gluten are often misdiagnosed and undetected.
Even if you don’t have a sensitivity, going gluten-free can be extremely helpful for achieving your health and weight loss goals. You’ll experience better digestion, cool inflammation and improve body composition.
Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity
Celiac disease: is a rare autoimmune disorder, affecting about 1% of Americans, in which eating gluten damages the small intestine. With an auto-immune reaction the immune system mistakes a part of the body as a pathogen and attacks it’s own cells. Celiac requires strict adherence to a 100% gluten-free diet.
Gluten sensitivity: is a common condition, affecting 1 in 3 Americans, in which the individual experiences symptoms (listed below) similar to those of Celiac, but an autoimmune reaction is not present.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity include:
- Digestive issues such as leaky gut, diarrhea, constipation
- Joint pain and inflammation
- Weight gain and obesity
- Diabetes and blood sugar problems
- Reproductive problems
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Thyroid problems
- Psychiatric disorders
Why Go Gluten-Free?
Although it seems crazy to eliminate foods that constitute the bulk of an average American’s diet, wheat, and most processed products contain gluten. Hidden in everything from bread to beer, condiments to conditioner, and lunch meat to licorice, gluten makes you fat, inflamed and addicted.
Gluten Makes You Fat
Wheat contains amylopectin A, a starch that spikes insulin more than most carbs (including table sugar), which promotes insulin resistance and weight gain.
Gluten Increases Inflammation
Often called the “gate-way grain,” gluten creates a leaky gut that can lead to multiple food allergies/sensitivities and inflammation throughout the body.
Gluten Promotes Overeating
Gluteomorphin, a drug-like component of the gluten protein, increases cravings, stimulates appetite and contributes to binge eating.
How to Go Gluten-Free
Read Product Labels
When in doubt, go without! Even trace amounts of gluten can cause damage, which is why it’s essential to always read labels. Gluten is commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye. Although many foods don’t naturally contain gluten, they’re often contaminated from farming, transportation, and manufacturing. Look for gluten-free labels, but keep in mind that just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Eat Whole Foods
One of the easiest ways to eliminate gluten is to avoid processed products. This also helps eliminate other common allergens and refined sugars. Enjoy more whole foods such as vegetables and fruits. Opt for greens over grains by enjoying salads, wraps, and veggies side dishes.
Find Healthier Alternatives
You don’t have to give up your favorite dishes to go gluten-free. Try these alternatives to improve your health without compromising flavor:
- Cereals –> gluten-free steel cut oats or quinoa flakes
- Bread –> Paleo bread, coconut bread, green wraps or stacks
- Tortillas –> organic corn tortillas, Paleo Wraps, green wraps, rolls or salads
- Glutenous grains –> root veggies such as potatoes or winter squash
- Pasta –> spaghetti squash or brown rice pasta
- Wheat/white flour –> almond or coconut flour
Dine Out Smarter
View menus ahead of time for gluten-free options and call the restaurant to ensure they can keep your food uncontaminated. Once you’re there, fill your plate with non-starchy veg, such as broccoli and opt for starchy veg, such as red potatoes, over grains. Load up on protein-rich foods such as salmon to increase satiation and reduce cravings. Beware sauces, soups, and dressings. Avoid anything breaded or deep-fried.