Does a Gluten Free Diet Really Work?
You’ve seen it on menus, magazines and Oprah-- even on The Kardashians. No question, the gluten-free diet is among the biggest health trends of our decade, and yet, many of us eye-roll at this whole gluten-fearing fad. I’m not surprised. We’ve been faced with so many questionable health kicks over the years-- no wonder we’re skeptical about being gluten free.
Think about all the other health hypes we’ve had in the past. Remember those belly stimulator belts that promised to give rock-hard abs? Or Dr.Phil’s support for Garcinia Cambogia to lose weight, or what about using lemon pads under your feet? Although I can’t confirm any of these remedies work, I can confidently stand by the gluten-free diet. Not only because doctors, nutritionists and athletes favor the gluten-free diet, but because I’ve experienced the results for myself! Here’s why the gluten-free diet really works.
First of all... what’s gluten?
Gluten is more than just a buzzword. According to celiac.org, gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat and grains. It helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.
Sounds harmless, right? Not quite, I’m afraid. Gluten is linked to all types of health conditions--and NOT just those suffering from celiac disease! I was shocked after reading an article by Dr. Christen C. Cooper in Today’s Dietitian Medical Magazine, which discusses how gluten is connected to the following conditions:
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Mental health problems (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ect.)
Focusing issues (brain fog)
Autism, ADD, ADHD
Why is gluten so harmful?
Gluten is hard to stomach-- literally! This protein puts your gut through a lot of work to digest, which can cause a load of health problems.
Dr.Axe is a strong believer in the dangers of gluten. He says, “a diet that includes allergens and inflammatory foods such as un-sprouted grains [gluten] can cause leaky gut syndrome.” This condition is when your intestine develops microscopic holes. Yikes, I know! He says it happens when your intestine gets inflamed by triggers--gluten is one of these triggers.
Heal your gut
It’s no wonder my stomach always bloats up so badly after snacking on pretzels or crackers. These aren’t healthy snacks-- even my husband Andrew is coming around and eating less gluten too. After reading Dr.Axe’s article, we learned that removing gluten from your diet can “provide a burst of extra energy, reduce inflammation, and ease digestive symptoms like gas, bloating or diarrhea. For others, going gluten-free could even be the key to reducing behavioral issues and improving symptoms of autism and irritable bowel syndrome”.
Gluten and mental health disorders
What’s the connection between gluten and mental health?
You wouldn’t think that gluten is linked to mental health problems, but the evidence is shocking! Livestrong is on board, revealing that gluten causes gut inflammation and stress hormones. With all this chaos in our body, it’s harder for us to digest nutrients. Over time, this toxic buildup disturbs our body’s functions, “including the production of certain neurotransmitters for the brain”, explains Livestrong. That’s their fancy way of saying that when gluten messes up our body, our brain suffers too!
Mental health problems
Psychiatrist Emily Deans sheds light on this matter in her article published by Psychology Today. She discusses the connection between gluten and mental conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder. Her research shows that “a combination of chronic stress, genetic vulnerability, nutrient deficiencies, and food toxins (including gluten) are responsible for most of the chronic disease in the western world, including mental illness.”
It’s scary how a food product we’re all brainwashed to see as harmless can be so dangerous to our health. This is why more and more doctors, psychologists and nutritionists are favoring the gluten-free diet.
Do all the experts agree?
Not all the experts are fans of the gluten-free diet-- mostly when it concerns people who aren’t celiac. I checked out what the leading Celiac Expert Dr. Daniel Leffler had to say. It seems he believes that giving up gluten for non-celiacs is pointless. As he states in the Harvard Health Blog, “People who are sensitive to gluten may feel better, but a larger portion will derive no significant benefit from the practice. They’ll simply waste their money, because these products are expensive.”
But then I see that two years after the Harvard article, Leffler gives the completely opposite stance to CNN in the story, “Will a gluten-free diet improve your health?”. He says, "Gluten is fairly indigestible in all people. There's probably some kind of gluten intolerance in all of us."
Why does he switch sides?
Well, it turns out that Leffler changes his opinion according to which publication or brand he’s representing. I found out that he’s a leading spokesperson for grain companies, helping to promote gluten as being harmless (for non-celiacs). He spoke at a Whole Grains Conference in Boston, organized by Oldways Whole Grains Council, the company responsible for stamping foods with whole grain labels. Leffler is also is connected to the International Pasta Organisation, an association dedicated to promoting pasta as nutritious and healthy.
I’m sickened by the misinformation we’re given about gluten! Does Leffler has something to gain by saying gluten is harmless? Maybe there’s a big coverup, and the pasta and grain companies are hiding the truth! I want to know what you think.