Today is National Celiac Awareness Day and while I can count on one hand the number of people who have celiac disease, I don’t have enough digits to count the number that follow a gluten free diet. Those who have celiac disease have an immune reaction to gluten, which destroys their intestinal lining leading to complications of a “leaky gut” as this barrier is destroyed. Gluten causes an immune reaction, classifying it as an autoimmune disease, meaning the body is attacking itself. Often people with Celiac disease will have many GI issues, headaches, fatigue among many other side effects due to gluten. Avoiding gluten is the only way to control side effects and retain their health. They also are extremely sensitive to gluten and cannot even use the same toaster that regular bread has been in.
So then you may ask what is going on with the gluten free craze and why are so many people following a gluten free diet? As I said above, gluten provokes an immune response by the body. Even there is no diagnosis of celiac disease, gluten intolerance or sensitivity can still be present to a certain degree. There are many speculations as to why our bodies attack gluten with such an immune response. One reason is industrialization of agriculture, and I like to explain this by saying the wheat our grandparents ate is many, many generations removed from what is now recognized as wheat. Secondly, gluten is everywhere, and in so many processed foods and snacks. We are more loaded with gluten than ever before.
In my line of work, it is easy to say I was curious about the gluten craze and had to give it a try. Now, I honestly don’t think I will ever fully incorporate gluten back into my life. I didn’t know how good I WASN’T feeling until I removed gluten from my diet. The perks: increased focus, increased energy, less GI and bathroom problems (especially with running), no more headaches and weight loss. It is not to say that I will never eat gluten… heck I just had a sample of a pretzel bun at Whole Foods. However, I found I feel better and feel more energized when consuming beans, quinoa and brown rice as my source of carbohydrate rather than wheat products.
This website is where I got started down the gluten free path:
Dr. Amy Myers has a great podcast series that also delves into thyroid disease and candida with functional medicine and relation to gluten intolerance. She also has recommendations for supplements (like probiotics) that can help heal the gut due to the destructive inflammatory process of gluten. For anyone looking for more information, I highly recommend her podcasts for your daily commute or exercise.
This is also a great resource that explains non-celiac gluten sensitivity:
Roaming around on this site you can find lists of gluten free foods, gluten free recipes and resources for eating out and eating gluten free.
Remember junk is junk…even if it is gluten free. If you want to try a gluten free diet, make it a whole and full of natural foods. Removes all processed foods, even the gluten free type – like the gluten free cookies that are quickly storming the shelves. I highly recommend everyone trying a gluten free lifestyle for two weeks, you’ll likely feel a difference by day three. It change change your perspective on carbs and change the staples of your daily diet.
You can also check out my gluten free ideas and recipes from my wordpress post in the gluten free category