One of the most popular areas of contemporary interest for modern family health surrounds the benefice of a gluten-free diet. I first discovered the health benefits of a gluten-free diet after the birth of my daughter. According to Forbes, over 3.1 million people were on a gluten-free diet in the USA in 2009. However, just over 70% of these people did not have celiac disease but instead chose a gluten-free diet for the additional health benefits.
Gluten is a protein that occurs in grains such as wheat and barley. Some people have celiac disease. This means that their body has an autoimmune response to these proteins which is not normal and can cause serious illness. It is also possible that rather than having celiac disease you are have what is called a gluten sensitivity. This means that gluten may cause your digestive system to become irritated or inflamed. Either way, consuming gluten causes sickness and/or discomfort.
Every sensation in our body, whether we are aware of it or not, has the capacity to affect our day to day life. For example, an irritated gut has the capacity to trick our brain into thinking we are anxious, thus, causing stress. This is because anxiety’s effect is also largely felt in the gut and is commonly known as the feeling of butterflies in your stomach. My test for celiac disease came back “borderline”. My doctor erred on the side of a “positive” which is why I simply choose not to consume gluten. Here are some other benefits of eliminating gluten from you diet:
1-Going Gluten-Free Improves Gut Health
Modern families are increasingly adopting a gluten-free diet to improve their collective health. But are there real benefits to going gluten-free if you do not have celiac disease, or is it all just a fad? Should you eliminate gluten from your family’s diet?
Gluten can cause inflammation in the gut lining, especially in those who are sensitive to gluten. Inflammation itself is a sign of a problem. However, inflammation in the gut also means that the proper absorption of nutrients from our food cannot take place.
Going gluten-free can help to reduce inflammation and improve the overall health of the gut. The health of the gut can also be improved by taking probiotic products.
2- Going Gluten-Free Can Aid Weight Loss or Gain
Ok, so largely this benefit isn’t directly a result of going gluten-free! It’s a by-product. Most foods that contain gluten are processed foods that contain a lot of fats and sugars that cause us to put on weight. So, put down your cookies and your cupcakes – it will be kinder to your gut and your waistline!
For some, going gluten-free can help with gain and/or maintenance. Leaky gut syndrome (intestinal permeability) can cause essential nutrients to “leak” out and cause some to become undernourished.
3- Going Gluten-Free Can Improve Our Energy Levels
Opting for a gluten-free diet can reduce fatigue and improve energy levels. Studies conducted by The University of Aberdeen also found that adopting a gluten-free diet also improved concentration in its participants and found that they were able to think more clearly.
Gluten-free diets have been popular in celebrity culture for a long time now. Gwyneth Paltrow and Novak Djokovic are among stars who have gone gluten-free as a means of improving their physical and mental health.
Why does it lead to higher energy levels? Because going gluten-free reduces inflammation and bloating. This, in turn, improves the bodies capability to absorb the nutrients we need from the food we take in.
4- Going Gluten-Free Is Essential for Treating Auto-Immune Disorders
There is a major link between gluten and auto-immune disorders. In fact, to adequately treat an auto-immune disease it is imperative that you cut gluten from your diet.
If you have an auto-immune disease your body is trying to protect itself from toxins or even foods, it considers being harmful. However, your body fails to differentiate between your own body cells and the substance it is trying to defend you from.
So where does gluten come into it? The gluten we eat today is not the same gluten consumed by our grandparents. Wheat has been modified over the years to create fluffier bread, cakes, and pantries. It has also been altered to give it a more uniform structure and color.
We are being increasingly exposed to more gluten that our bodies are not naturally programmed to process. Our bodies can not tolerate this. Therefore, we experience more inflammation and poorer health of the gut along with auto-immune disorders.
5- Going Gluten-Free Helps Kids Who Are on The Autistic Spectrum
Research has found substantial evidence for a link between the brain and gut. Both adults and children who suffer from autism are much more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal problems. The Autism Research Institute has found that as many as 70% of children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder also suffer from gastrointestinal distress.
These gastrointestinal problems cause the gut’s lining to become more permeable. Partly digested gluten and protein particles pass more easily through the more permeable membrane. The then travel to the brain and bind to opioid receptors. This affects the neurochemistry of the brain and causes symptoms of autism to worsen. For example, mood swings can become more frequent or intense.
A Few Extra Tips for Going Gluten-Free
- Firstly, concentrate on what you can eat. Not what you can’t eat! Habit is a tricky thing to break. Everyone who goes on a gluten-free diet finds it challenging to begin with.
- Buy a gluten-free cookbook.There are so many grain-free cookbooks that we love! Cookbook’s showing mouth watering pictures have the amazing ability to get us excited about food. They will also present you with ideas on how to create interesting meals that you will love on a gluten-free diet.
- Don’t cheat! Little bits of gluten here and there might not seem like much, however, they can cause your body distress and make you feel worse. If you are trying to change a habit you want to see progress. But progress is hard to see when improved health is clouded by little bits of distress due to cheating.
- Make connections. Join Facebook groups dedicated to sharing gluten free recipes and motivating each other to maintain the change of diet. Follow inspiring Instagrammers and / or create a Pinterest board to fill with new meals to try.
- Check labels on food packets and tins. The easiest way to break a gluten-free diet is accidentally! Check whether food contains gluten before consuming it.
- Reflect on how far you have come. Reflection and taking time to notice a difference will make it easier to maintain a gluten-free diet.
- Praise yourself. Rewarding positive actions is used in psychology to reinforce a desired behavior. Eventually, reinforcing a desired behavior creates a habit.
So, after reading this post how do you feel about glutens place in the modern family diet? Do you think you will be adopting a gluten-free diet in the future? Do you feel able to implements a family gluten free diet? If not, then why? Let us know, you might get your questions answered in a future blog post!