It’s Not the Latest Fad Diet. What You Need to Know About Gluten Sensitivity.
Gluten allergies and gluten sensitivities are a real problem for many people. But, going gluten free isn’t just another fad diet; it’s about finding an alternative way to feed your body the right nutrients while reducing inflammation and restoring balance.
Consider this: about one percent of the population is gluten allergic and up to seven to 10 percent is gluten sensitive. And for the rest of us who experience occasional sensitivity to gluten, the majority of people aren’t gluten allergic or intolerant at all – we just eat way too much gluten. Too much gluten in our diet can cause intestinal permeability, and any food that follows ingestion of gluten can actually cause inflammation and leaky gut symptoms.
What is Gluten, Anyway?
Before we talk about gluten sensitivity and the benefits of going gluten free, let’s answer the question: what is gluten? Gluten is a protein found naturally in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is also present in whole grain foods related to wheat, including bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt and triticale.
Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity
It’s important to understand that a gluten sensitivity or an intolerance is different from Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder where the body actually attacks gluten when ingested. This causes damage to the gut wall and can lead to nutritional deficiencies, anemia and a number of digestive problems including bloating and stomach pain, but also symptoms outside the gut such as rashes, joint pains, and even seizures. For those with gluten allergy or Celiac disease, having gluten can be very dangerous and should be avoided 100% of the time. People who are gluten sensitive have both gut and systemic issues. It is not dangerous for them to have gluten, but it is uncomfortable.
Some of the other non-gut issues associated with gluten sensitivity are due to the stimulation of the immune system and having inflammation which results in an “itis”. Examples are bronchitis, sinusitis, allergies, as well as body aches, joint pain, heart palpitations and fatigue.
There are a lot of other conditions and food sensitivities that cause these symptoms, which is why we perform thorough testing on our patients to rule out any underlying medical condition and to identify if it’s truly your body reacting to gluten.
While we do have food sensitivity testing, there is actually no perfect test that can 100 percent show gluten intolerance or allergy. In some patients, we find they are sensitive to the preservatives and not the gluten.
We take an extra step at Shakthi to also look for markers of inflammation in the body. We work closely with our patients in tracking symptoms when they eat gluten versus any disappearance of symptoms when gluten is eliminated from the diet. It’s called an elimination diet and we have had great success in identifying gluten and/or other food sensitivities that lead to gut issues and other medical conditions.
After the elimination part of the process, we work to heal the gut. This is the next phase where we look for reasons the immune system can be overactive. Is there a parasite, bacterial overgrowth, toxin burden? We need to eliminate the reason in the gut as well as start replacing nutrients and foods to heal the gut.
Eliminating Gluten- What it Does to Your Body?
For those people who are treated for gluten sensitivity or allergy at Shakthi, eliminating gluten from the diet has shown a number of benefits. Patients experience a decrease in overall inflammation, symptoms caused by allergies are relieved, their gut is no longer bloated, abdominal discomfort and gas gets better and many of the common “itis”, go away. Patients even see a reduction in conditions like brain fog, skin rashes, fatigue, migraines and joint pain.
We do caution that when eliminating gluten completely from the diet, it’s imperative to ensure that you are not starving your body of necessary nutrients from other sources of food. We have nutrition experts on hand to monitor your diet and identify dietary supplements that can stave off nutritional deficiencies.
For people with gluten sensitivity or allergy, going gluten free is easier than ever before. There are a plethora of tasty gluten free products on the market from breads and cereals to gluten free flours. There are also many alternative grains that are good for people with gluten issues including millet, potato flour, barley, oats, quinoa, tapioca, buckwheat and rice.
It’s important to note that when changing your diet to gluten free, you have to give it time. There’s no such thing as a 10-day gluten free fix. It takes time to see results and a decrease in symptoms. Our focus is on healing the gut and reducing the inflammation that can wreak havoc on your body and overall well-being.
It could be a food sensitivity. Ask us about our effective anti-inflammatory diet and our gut healing protocols and get back to feeling better and living healthier, naturally.