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Have you ever stopped to ponder how much gluten you might be consuming in your
diet? Have you ever stopped and thought about the fact that this highly processed product, did not play much of a part in our diet until the last 100 years or so. In evolutionary terms, this is only a very short period of time and it is felt that as a race, our bodies have not adapted well to this rapid change. If you are a regular eater of bread or toast, cereals, pasta, pastries, pizza, pies, wraps, biscuits or crackers, your gluten intake is likely to be extremely high.
In my clinic, I regularly request that my patients avoid processed foods and have mainly fresh produce. And unfortunately for those gluten lovers, there is no such thing as a bread tree or a pasta tree! When I ask my patients to eat gluten free eating gluten products for 6 to 8 weeks (for various different health reasons) I am constantly surprised how many of them tell me how good they feel without the gluten. In particular, many of my patients report more energy and less bloating of the stomach. So what are some of the problems associated with gluten:
1. Gluten is the number one allergy food, which can produce measurable IgE antibodies and an allergy response within 2 to 4 hours of ingestion;
2. Gluten is known to be associated with many skin disorders including the allergy related ones, but also skin conditions such as psoriasis, where 40% of people are believed to have an intolerance;
3. Some people will have a very overt form of gluten intolerance known as celiac disease. In celiac disease the finger like projections in the bowel, known as villi, are actually worn away;
4. The average western diet is highly acidic and one of the main causes of this is high
5. Grains stop the absorption of the important mineral zinc, due to the phytates which they contain;
6. Poor nutrition is very common in modern society. When you are filling up on nutrient poor, calorie rich foods such as breads, you are doing this at the expense of eating more nutritional foods such as vegetables;
7. Gluten intake is associated with leaky gut syndrome. A substance has been identified that resides on the outside of the small intestine and this substance is responsible for the absorption of gluten into the blood stream. As the gluten passes through the intestine, the substance forces open the tight junctions that are found between the cells, allowing the gluten to pass into the blood stream. Once in the blood stream gluten can create an inflammatory response which can affect the whole body and produce symptoms such as pain, fatigue, allergy, skin problems etc;
8. Gluten can cause a delayed allergy response which produces IgG antibodies - symptoms can arise 24 to 72 hours after ingestion;
9. Gluten can slow down thyroid function and should therefore be avoided if you
10. When consuming a high carbohydrate food such as bread, cakes, pastries, pizza or biscuits, the body must produce large amounts of insulin, to process the glucose in these foods. If you are eating gluten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, your body will be almost continually producing insulin. Problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome, insulin resistance and diabetes are associated with blood sugar and insulin problems. Decreasing the intake of gluten and consuming more vegetables and proteins instead, will help reverse these blood sugar related conditions.
Some of my patients become a little bewildered at the suggestion of removing gluten from the diet, but believe me it is not as hard as what you think. There are many companies producing gluten free foods these days and it really is a matter of educating yourself about what is good and what is not so good. Unless you are a celiac, most people can tolerate small amounts of gluten now and again. But for lifelong good health and disease prevention, going gluten free or significantly reducing your intake, is definitely a smart move.
Written by Naturopath and Nurse, Vivienne Savill. For gluten free cooking advice, visit http://www.recipetohealth.com/
Vivienne Savill is a Naturopath and Nurse who runs a natural health clinic in Australia. She is passionate about teaching people how to maintain good health and prevent ill health, through the use of diet, nutrition, lifestyle and herbs. Vivienne is the author of numerous health books which can be found at http://www.recipetohealth.com