Read Time: 10 mins
Gluten is one the biggest health crazes right now. Walk through any health food or grocery store and your likely to be bombarded with “Gluten-Free” options everywhere. In 2013, the gluten-free industry was estimated at $10.5 billion and continues to rapidly growing. In the restaurant industry, it’s one of the top 5 trends for 2014 (http://goo.gl/KSUwjJ). The book Grain Brain has also become an international best seller (http://goo.gl/wPfWtB).
What’s all the fuss about?
If we look at our diet trends, there’s been a big shift in our diets from high-fat, low-carb diets, to todays trend of low-fat, high-carb diets. The average American eats 133 pounds of wheat each year, and the wheat shares almost no genetic resemblance to what our hunter-gatherers ate.
While our genetics and the way our bodies function haven’t changed much from our ancestors, our food manufacturing processes have changed a lot. We are challenging our bodies in ways we are not genetically programmed.
Modern grains are more problematic then ever before.
The word gluten means “glue” in Latin. It’s a protein that acts as an adhesive material, holding flour together to make bread products, crackers, baked goods, pizza dough and other items (listed below). The chewy bread products attribute their gumminess to gluten.
Gluten causes inflammation in your body. Think of inflammation as a survival response, for example when you get a mosquito bite, the redness and the bump is inflammation. However, when there’s too much inflammation, or the inflammation is turned on for long periods of time, our body takes on greater risk and problems arise.
Gluten’s stickiness also interferes with the breakdown and absorption of nutrients. Leaving a pasty residue in your gut, alerting the immune system to go into action, and exposing our intestine tissues to possible damage.
As many as 40 percent of us can’t properly process gluten, and the remaining 60 percent may be effected. This is causing doctors to re-examine the bigger picture of gluten and how it’s linked to brain diseases and disorders.
Many times we hear about people going gluten-free because they have celiac disease (a rare disease when the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty digesting food). However the more we discover about gluten, the more it might cause damage to all of us, without us even knowing it.
Here’s an astonishing realization, food manufactures know that there’s morphine-like compounds in our brains, that induce a mild euphoria when we eat gluten (good feelings that cause us to become addicted and eat more), so they are trying to pack as much gluten into their products as possible. To make matters worse, when you don’t eat gluten, some people even experience a withdrawal feeling.
Gluten is our generations tobacco.
Diseases are soaring at alarming rates. Heart disease is our number one killer, followed next by cancer, and diabetes continues to rapidly climb. (I know from first hand experience, last year I was diagnosed with colon cancer, and most thankfully, I’m cured).
Gluten sensitivity is one of the most under recognized health threats, and has also been linked to brain disorders such as headaches, depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, and decreased libido.
The image below shows a brain MRI scan showing severe changes in the white matter (arrows) related to gluten sensitivity and headaches (left) compared to a normal study (right).
There’s been some remarkable health benefits of people who eliminate gluten. Reported claims is depression has been gone, no headaches, more energy, ability to stay focused for longer periods of time, sharper thoughts, and no more obsessive compulsive tendencies.
Then best way to know if you’re sensitive to gluten is to get tested by your doctor. Keep in mind the tests can’t see the full picture if we’re sensitive to gluten, nevertheless, you should always speak to your doctor before making any changes in your diet. Many people will experiment for 30 days and see how they feel when they’re gluten-free. Monitor your thoughts and adjust accordingly.
Here are the foods to avoid, unless labeled ‘Gluten-Free’.
- Cakes and pies
- Cookies and crackers
- French fries
- Imitation meat or seafood
- Processed luncheon meats
- Salad dressings
- Sauces, including soy sauce
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
- Self-basting poultry
- Soups and soup bases
- Vegetables in sauce
Certain grains, such as oats, can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production. Therefore try avoiding oats unless they are specifically labeled gluten-free.
Thankfully we’re starting to see a surge in gluten-free options being introduce in the market:
Fast food restaurants are even starting to introduce gluten-free options:
Gluten has compounds that create a sticky residue in our bodies. This stickiness causes our bodies to go into overdrive. Putting our bodies through these emergency responses puts us at great health risks, and our bodies including our minds are adversely effected. To make matters worse, food manufacturers have found gluten creates an addictive feeling, much like tobacco, and therefore are putting as much gluten in their products as possible. Try going gluten-free, be aware how you feel, and see if its something you want to incorporate into your lifestyle. You may experience many positive benefits such as increased focus for longer periods of time, a sharper mind, more energy, no headaches, and many other benefits.
As always, speak to your doctor before adopting any diet modifications.