Everywhere you look there are new gluten free products, articles and books like Grain Brain and Wheat Belly touting the benefits of cutting gluten out of your diet. But maybe you aren’t sold just yet. Fair enough. So for today’s post let’s drill down on the basics.
What is Gluten?
Let’s keep things simple: gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley. Of the gluten-containing grains, wheat is by far the most commonly consumed. The two main proteins in gluten are glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is responsible for most of the negative health effects.
Gliadin gives wheat bread its doughy texture and increases production of zonulin, an intestinal protein which opens up gaps in the normally tight junctures between intestinal cells increasing intestinal permeability or “leaky gut.”
By the way since we all create zonulin in response to gluten, it makes sense that we are all affected to some degree. In fact, according to Dr. Alessio Fasano in his new book, Gluten Freedom, “Gluten sensitivity affects six to seven times more people than celiac disease.”
People think only those with celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease, are affected by gluten. But this isn’t true. Many people have wheat allergy or some level of gluten intolerance or sensitivity. In fact some experts believe most people experience some level of gluten sensitivity simply because it is found in so many foods and even cosmetics and as noted above, we all react to it.
Possible Effects of Gluten
Don’t think that digestive problems like leaky gut, IBS symptoms, gas, diarrhea, constipation and bloating are the only ones that can indicate sensitivity to gluten.
Gluten is also known to contribute to health problems you might not immediately associate with it such as:
Skin conditions like acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo
Immune system sensitivity and increased inflammation
Autism (gliadin is being studied as being a possible link)
Depression and anxiety
Joint and muscle aches
Dental issues like cavities, canker sores (mouth ulcers,) broken teeth, tooth decay
Unexplained weight gain or loss
Hormonal imbalance including adrenal fatigue
Wheat allergy is a reaction to certain proteins in the wheat, whereas non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance can be related either to a reaction to the proteins, or to poor absorption of carbohydrates called fermentable oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols (FODMAPS).
Visit http://3dlivingnutrition.wordpress.com tomorrow to read part two of this series: “Nutrition: Is There More to it Than Just Cutting Out Gluten?”
Do you experience any of the symptoms noted and believe they could be related to gluten sensitivity?
Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to this blog (just click on “Follow”) and get each new post delivered to your email or feed reader. To follow me and get even more tips on how to live your life in 3-D as well as getting exclusive information on giveaways and special offers, be sure to like me on Facebook, sign up for my FREE weekly No-Nonsense Nutrition Report, follow me on Pinterest and Twitter!
Make gradual changes. Boost health, vitality and energy. Become your best YOU.
I had to go off of gluten. I must say it made a big difference for me. But when my family has their breads and muffins around, I miss it! I’ve made some gluten-free products but haven’t found anything healthy that I love.
I think I do Debbie! I had to find some recipes for breads for my husband because he really missed them. I shared a link in the earlier article about my husband that is referenced in this post and I have to say so far the recipes I’ve tried have been a hit with him – a VERY picky eater!
Scary stuff! Especially the part about the dental issues. We are blessed to have zero food allergies or intolerances. However, we very rarely eat processed foods or eat out. So, when we do have gluten, it’s usually homemade from good quality organic wheat. I imagine that makes a difference. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. It’s interesting indeed.
Thank you Holly. It is scary stuff and anything homemade is always better because we can choose and control the ingredients.
Absolutely! In the meantime, I checked out the site you recommended for recipes and took a quick look at one of her articles and it reminded me of something that pertains to what you’re saying about gluten. Last week Jer and I were volunteering and for some reason, all of our volunteer work includes eating. 😉 That night we had Pizza Hut pizza. I did the responsible thing and had two pieces of veggie. On the way home I told Jer, “I just can’t eat out anymore. That pizza gave me the worst heartburn and I’m so bloated. I never get heartburn. I don’t get it.” Hmmmm, could this be the effects of cheap Pizza Hut wheat? Interesting.
I wouldn’t be surprised Holly! It’s pretty fascinating to me how much it can affect us in ways we wouldn’t connect to it.