Gluten-Free? This is a big, confusing question for many people these days.
Gluten-free – this term is popping up on more labels every day, in commercials and even in TV shows where the characters are on a gluten-free diet. So, many ask, what does gluten-free actually mean?
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and is very difficult for many people to digest. Therefore, it causes a multitude of unpleasant symptoms ranging from bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, as well as foggy brain or even the lack of nutrient absorption. Some people experience headaches, joint pain, exhaustion, and even leaky gut. In people with Celiac Disease, this protein turns against the body and attacks itself, being an auto-immune disease.
When a person with Celiac Disease ingests gluten, even the tiniest crumb, they are essentially poisoning their body. This in turn can lead to even more serious conditions down the road. To add even more confusion, a person can test negative for Celiac Disease, and still be gluten-intolerant. Thankfully, more studies are being done to understand this concept further.
So, the question is: Do you or should you start a gluten-free diet?
This would differ from person to person. First and foremost, it is imperative to visit your doctor for their recommendation before starting any diet. Let me be clear here that gluten-free eating is not a diet, it is a lifestyle. Your doctor should understand your health and how food affects you. If your doctor does not have an understanding of Celiac Disease and gluten-intolerance, find one who does. This will make a huge impact on your life.
Today there are many Celiac Centers around the country, as well as Functional Medicine doctors who do understand gluten.
Always remember that you are your OWN best advocate. If you do not seek what you need, there is no telling what you will experience from all of your complications. If you don’t get answers, change doctors and keep asking, but do not give up!
Overall, think about and be in tune with your body.
How do you respond to food after you eat?
How do you feel?
Are you running to the bathroom after certain meals?
Exploding with gas, in pain?
Are you just tired and feel out of it often, not much energy?
Having a hard time paying attention to things?
Gluten effects everyone differently – be mindful of what your body is telling you.
Look at what you are eating and see if there is a pattern.
Keep a journal to help you see how you are reacting to certain foods.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you SHOULD NOT start a gluten-free diet without completing the testing first. If you feel that gluten is causing some of your troubles/sickness/disease, have your doctor run the correct tests for Celiac Disease.
Taking the tests after starting a gluten-free diet will not give the correct results.
Not testing first would mean returning to eating gluten for about three months before being tested again for the results to be correct. Now, if you stop eating gluten and feel great – do you really want to go back and eat gluten for three months, and feel terrible again, just to be tested? Do the testing first!
If the Celiac tests come back negative, look into testing for food reactions and gluten sensitivity. There are blood tests for this, but you could also do a Food Elimination and see how that works for you.
Do not stop because your test was negative. I have talked to people who told me they never gave up gluten because they tested negative for Celiac Disease. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or Gluten Intolerance is a real health breaker and should be treated with the same force and determination as you would for Celiac Disease. Talking to your doctor, a Functional Medicine doctor or a Certified Health Coach could really help you in this area.
I learned this the hard way but have come a long way on my road to health! You can get there too!
What do you think? Should you be gluten-free?
Be mindful of what you eat, what you do and how you feel – the pieces will all come together.
Watch for my 21 Day Gluten-free Challenge starting in two weeks. Will you join me on your gluten-free journey?