10 Good Reasons To Give Up Gluten
Gluten has been given a bad wrap the past few years and it may seem unwarranted but if you look into it a little further you will see that there is a lot of good reasons to try an elimination diet for a while. The wheat we have access to today is a hybridized product that has higher yields and even more gluten in each kernel than ever before. Also modern wheat is heavily sprayed with glycophosphate pesticide that can cause more of a reaction in many than the wheat itself. Another aspect of gluten that should be taken into account is that traditional cultures took great pains to soak and sprout grains to make them more digestible. Modern breads are often heavily processed leaving little nutrition yet holding onto the indigestible aspects that cause gut irritation and upset. Giving up gluten and wheat products for several weeks can help each individual to access their tolerance and reaction to these commonly allergenic foods.
1. Before 10,000 years ago our main food source was wild animal meat, not grains. Since the birth of agriculture there has been a steady increase in the amount of grains consumed daily. Ten thousand years is a very short time when you compare it to the 2.6 million of years of human evolution. Over the past 130 years in the western world where chronic disease is very widespread people have consumed a greater percentage of their calories from processed grains and gluten. Many scientists believe our digestive systems have not adapted to digesting grains. Our hunter gather ancestors were taller, free of cavities, and had low infant mortality rates which indicates a nutritious diet. They also did not have the degenerative conditions we have today such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
2. All grains contain a phytic acid which inhibits the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Soaking grains overnight can eliminate some of these issues but most people are not eating bread and pastas that have not been properly prepared. Phytates can also interfere and neutralize our digestive enzymes in the stomach increasing disorders such as heartburn.
3. Whole grains are stripped of nutrients such as vitamin E, zinc, chromium, manganese and iron during processing of bread, pasta and flour.
4. Grains contain a proven cancer causing substance called Aflotoxin which is formed by molds that grow when in storage.
6. Approximately 1 out of 100 people have Celiac disease, an autoimmune condition where the body attacks it’s own small intestine. A majority of people with Celiac are unaware because they have no gastrointestinal symptoms. It is estimated that 20 percent of Americans have autoimmune diseases and not eating gluten can help to calm the immune system in these people.
7. Experts believe that 81 percent of people have some form of gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance is very common for people of Northern European origin. This is different from an anaphylaxis acute reaction, these symptoms can show up 24-48 hours later as gas, constipation, bloating, skin rashes or acne.
8. Eating gluten over time weakens the digestive system which can start a process called Leaky Gut syndrome where tiny cracks develop in the protective intestinal lining letting undigested food particles into the blood stream. These gluten antigens flare up a protective reaction by the immune system that can lead to allergic, cognitive, physical or emotional food sensitivity reactions.
9. Gluten grains contains compounds called exorphins which are addictive and leave many people in denial about negative impact these grains have on health and digestion. These compounds are what make you feel like eating a whole baguette of bread in one sitting.
10. Eating gluten causes inflammation which shuts down blood flow to the frontal cortex. This part of the brain that help us focus, plan, organize, manage emotions, and use our short term memory. This decreased blood supply to the brain is powerfully linked with depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
Action Steps: I recommend an elimination diet to take out all grains and gluten for 2-3 weeks and see if your energy, mood and digestion improves. Currently most gluten tests are unreliable and expensive. The normal tests at your doctors office may not tell you about gluten intolerance until there is extreme gut damage. Ditch the gluten for just a few weeks and you will be sold on the benefits. Here is a great guide to getting started on a gluten free lifestyle: