Why eat gluten free?

Many people claim that going gluten free is just another passing diet fad – but I think this cynicism is probably because people don’t quite understand….

1. Improves your digestion: Gluten is difficult for many people to digest and will often go through your stomach undigested – this undigested gluten then irritates your intestine walls which causes inflammation and other problems like leaky gut (this is when the undigested foods leak through the irritated intestine and secrete toxins into the blood and the lymph outside the intestine). It has also been proven that people who eat gluten suffer more digestive discomfort (pain, bloating, constipation) and fatigue than those who don’t.

2. Improves your mental clarity: Although we don’t often think to associate gluten with brain function, what we eat actually has an enormous effect on our brains. If you suffer from brain fog and tiredness the first thing you should do is look at your diet. If you are consuming foods that your digestion will struggle to process (like refined sugars, flours and processed foods for example) your body will spend all its energy on trying to deal with digestion rather than on your mental clarity – in other words your digestion steals your brains energy. This is even more important if you suffer from any sort of brain disorder – for example many studies have shown that there is a strong connection between the consumption of gluten and cerebellar ataxia showing that people with ataxia improve significantly on a gluten free diet. The same can be said for several other brain disorders such as Schizophrenia, (123), Autism (45), epilepsy (678), depression and learning disorders (9)

3. Helps you lose weight: Of course improving your digestive function and your mental clarity is a huge help for anyone trying to lose weight but additionally going gluten free also helps you improve your diet in general. This is because most fattening, processed foods contain gluten – bread, pizza, cakes, muffins, cookies, pasta and most snack foods won’t work on a gluten free diet and of course cutting out these high calorie foods are going to help you drop weight! But be careful that you don’t then start to replace these foods with supermarket bought ‘gluten free’ products that contain sugar and unhealthy starches (make sure you read the labels!). Also making your own gluten free snacks is surprisingly easy (for example have a look at my chocolate cake or orange cake – both are sugar and gluten free!)

4. Gluten is addictive: Why is it that cravings tend to be for carbohydrates?  In a study about the addictive qualities of gluten scientists broke gluten down in a test tube and noted that the peptides that formed can activate our opioid receptors (x). Just like sugar, gluten can make its way into your blood stream (through the permeability it can cause in your gut as mentioned in point 1) and therefore to your brain – which is why in Food addict circles sugar and gluten are the among the top foods of addiction. It is also noted that people who eat gluten are more likely to not be able to give up eating sugar either – obviously if you want to be lose weight or improve your health gluten and sugar both need to be cut out.

Going totally gluten free might be a bit hard for most of us but it is definitely in everyone’s best interest to cut it from our diets as much as we can – if the most you can do is to cut out any white refined flours then do that because it’s a really easy way to start losing weight and feeling better!