I was considering a gluten-free diet about 6 months ago, not thinking I could do it. But I did, and have stayed successfully gluten-free (to the best of my ability) in that time. Many folks have asked me why I am choosing this diet, and what it entails. I thought I would collect some thoughts about it here.
Gluten is a special type of protein that is commonly found in rye, wheat, and barley. It pops up in a wide variety of products: from obvious culprits such as bread and baked goods, to less obvious ones like soy sauce, to altogether unexpected ones such as lip balm. In the United States, gluten is second to sugar as the most commonly consumed ingredient.
A lot of people choose a gluten-free diet because they have been diagnosed with celiac disease. There are some, like myself, who have not been diagnosed as a celiac, but find that eliminating food containing gluten from their diet just makes them feel good.
Why would that be? Here are some things that I have discovered in the research that I have done. Feel free to do your own research, as I am not going to be scientific and quote sources. Please take the following with a gluten-free grain of salt.
- First, the good: eating wheat products, especially whole wheat, does offer some health benefits. Among a few other important nutrients, wheat contains the all important fiber that the body needs so badly. That’s where the good stuff I am going to say about it ends.
- Humans don’t fully digest wheat. Remember as a child mixing flour and water to make glue? It is gluten that gave this mixture its sticky, glue-like consistency. It is hard to for the body to process and digest glue.
- A term that I keep coming across when reading about reason to become wheat free: leaky gut syndrome. Sounds gross, right? Leaky gut syndrome is a condition whereby stuff is leaking from your gut into your bloodstream — stuff that shouldn’t be there, such as toxins. Eating wheat may cause this.
- Millions of people are allergic to wheat — so many, in fact, that it has made it onto the top-eight allergen list.
- Lastly, and this is controversial, but I have heard it enough now that I must mention here: wheat was not an original part of the human diet, and there have been some studies done to suggest that it reacts negatively to our immune systems.
So, that’s all of the google, heresy, and friend inspired research I have. If you are considering this diet yourself, I think it goes without saying that it would be a good idea to run it by your own medical professional first.