I simply do not have the answer for that. Regardless of what a scientific study may prove or disprove, we are all so different in our nutritional needs that it's just impossible to say that any one food is bad enough that everyone needs to avoid it. Not everybody NEEDS to avoid gluten....but whether it's a good idea or not, well, that's another question.
You don't need to have gluten in your diet at all. There are plenty of foods out there that are gluten free. But it seems to be so abundant in our mainstream food sources these days that it's hard to steer clear of it....especially if you dine out regularly or simply don't take the time to consciously eliminate it. I have avoided gluten specifically for reducing antibodies relating to autoimmunity and Hashimoto's. And although I feel that most people would fair much better on a gluten free diet, there are those who simply never notice a difference in their health once it's eliminated. So the question as to whether gluten is the culprit to your sensitivities gets tossed around in the nutritional community.
There is a whole lot of mumbo jumbo in the news these days as to whether gluten sensitivity even exists. Well, of course it exists. If it didn't exist, you would have a sensitivity to it if you ate it. You don't have to go into the science of it all to know that when you eat gluten and have a reaction to it that you are "sensitive" to it. Perhaps we should come up with a different name for it so that the anti-gluten-sensitivity people can have their say.......let's call it Gluten Reactiveness....whether it be an actual physical OR a psychological post consumption "sensitivity"....your body, perhaps even your mind, is "reacting" in a way that is not in alignment with how you want your body to feel.
If you are experiencing digestive issues, it's obvious that you may want to eliminate the foods that potentially could be causing discomfort or even inflammation. Gluten does happen to fall into that category, but it isn't the only food that could be triggering your symptoms. Grains in general have the potential to cause digestive problems, and yes, even the gluten free grains. It very well could be another food entirely that has initiated the stress on the gut and gluten is just the straw that broke the camel's back.
Before we go crazy and start removing all your favorite foods, let's see what you are consuming the most of. We tend to become sensitive/allergic to the foods that we eat the most.....overexposure. Since gluten seems to be one of the foods that gets rotated in on a daily basis (cereal, bagels/bread, pasta, gluten based grains like wheat, triticale, spelt, farro, most oats, barley rye, malt, crackers, prepared and frozen entrees, and many condiments and sauces) we are consuming it not just daily, but often times multiple times throughout the day. Dairy, eggs, soy, coffee, and yes, you can even develop a reaction to the supplements you're taking are also at the top of the list when it comes to foods that you may be reactive to. But gluten just so happens to make the front page when it comes to nutritional do's and don'ts.
Most people do really well when they eliminate gluten from their diets. Often times it is the one food that is causing their distress. And in that case, you should eliminate it from your diet. Sometimes it's a combination of foods that are causing issues for you. And these issues are not just specific to the digestive system. If you are experiencing any of the following, consider doing a food elimination/rotation protocol. Often times we see multiple food sensitivities in an individual; however, given the time to heal the gut, these foods are easily rotated back into the diet with ease.
Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivities
- Digestive distress --> Bloating, Gas, Constipation, Diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, cramping, abdominal distention
- Skin Rashes --> Dermatitis, Eczema, Dry itchy skin, chronic redness.
- Inflammation --> joint pain, headaches, swollen fingers, basic body aches
- Respiratory --> asthma, bronchitis, shortness of breath
- Brain Fog --> cloudy thinking, dizziness, forgetfulness
- Fatigue/Irritability/Moodiness --> sleepiness either immediately or even hours later, mood swings, high and low energy
Start with eliminating gluten for 2-4 weeks....journal how you feel. Add it back in for ONE meal on ONE day and then wait a week. See how you feel again. If during the period of elimination you did not feel better or did not notice a difference upon reintroduction, chances are it's not the gluten.But it's still a good idea to take it out until you discover what truly is causing your distress.....
Taking this all into consideration, food elimination and rotation is far from the only way to heal your body. If you have an imbalance of the healthy flora in your gut or any amount of intestinal permeability (leaky gut syndrome), chances are that food elimination isn't going to be enough. It's the first place to start....but rebuilding and repairing the gut goes along with it as well....which is part of the next blog....
Removing, Repair, Restore....
For now, look at your diet and start there. And remember, dining out in restaurants is a sure fire way to have full exposure to or cross contamination with gluten. So be careful where you eat during this period of time. Most restaurants these days are very aware of food allergies and are happy to accommodate your dietary needs.
To Your Health!!