WANT TO GO GLUTEN FREE?
What may seem like a fad these days, going gluten free is truly for significant health reasons for a growing number of people struggling with autoimmune and inflammation problems. Research is pointing to the fact that gluten is at least one aspect of these major health issues. In my practice, I see patients who suffer a host of these conditions, and working on correcting their diet has had life altering positive changes on their quality of life. These changes almost inevitably include removing gluten from their diets.
If you are one of the millions of people worldwide who avoid gluten or know someone who does, read below for the top 6 mistakes I see people make when they decide to go gluten free.
6 BIGGEST MISTAKES GOING GLUTEN FREE
- You don’t remain gluten free long enough
A few weeks or a month of going gluten free is, for most people, not enough to see if it’s an important factor in your health. This is especially true for those of you dealing with serious inflammatory conditions. Let’s take Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves Disease as examples. These autoimmune conditions that attack the thyroid have been well studied in relation to gluten sensitivity. Research illustrates that the inflammatory effects of a reintroduction of gluten were shown to last up to six months in people with autoimmune thyroid problems. This means it takes a long time to fully recover from eating gluten; certainly at least six months. In my personal and professional experience, I have found that gut problems like leaky gut syndrome that are generally related to major inflammatory conditions, can often take over a year to fully heal. In other words, a chronic health problem that has taken years to become what it is today, won’t go away in three weeks.
- You have incomplete gluten sensitivity lab tests done
The most cost effective way to see if your body is reacting to gluten is of course to do a strict Elimination Diet for several months and note your symptoms. However, going gluten free can be challenging, even if you fully understand how it influences your immune system and digestive tract. So, if you are thinking about making the effort to go gluten free and want to be certain before making the effort to eliminate it, it makes sense to determine for sure if gluten is currently posing a risk for you. Most people don’t realize that there are about 24 different aspects of wheat that your body can be reacting to. Typically, most basic food sensitivity lab tests offered in functional medicine clinics like mine only test for one aspect – alpha gliadin. If this comes back negative, most people believe they can continue eating gluten without ill effects. However, alpha gliadin is just one part of the gluten intolerance spectrum that can be tested for. There are lab tests available that test for all aspects of gluten to ensure we know your reactivity. If it is proven your immune system reacts to any aspect, gluten is best removed from your diet.
- You go only “MOSTLY” gluten-free
If you decide to go gluten free, eating a little bit of gluten is like being a little bit pregnant. If your body negatively reacts to gluten, a little bit will still cause that reaction and promote inflammation. I request that my patients eliminate gluten entirely for at least 30 days but prefer strict elimination for longer to determine benefits of going gluten free. Even if you were strictly gluten free for only two weeks, it is very likely that you would notice improvements in your health that would spur you to stay gluten free for longer.
- You start eating more gluten free processed foods
Just because something is labeled gluten free does not mean it’s automatically healthy. In fact, for various reasons, eating gluten free processed foods can be as unhealthy or even worse than when you were eating a few foods with gluten. A healthy gluten free diet is full of nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory healthy fats, proteins, and organic plant based foods. Most gluten free products, including most breads, crackers, cookies, etc, can still contain a lot of sugar and unhealthy fats that you’d be better off not eating. Additionally, there may be cross reactive foods in many of those food items that can trigger your immune system, as discussed below.
- You still eat cross reactive foods
If you’ve gone gluten free and initially felt better but then hit a plateau, cross-reactivity is something to consider. I offer lab tests that test for foods that do not contain gluten but that the body could be reading as gluten. The body can be reacting to any of the many aspects of gluten, and reacting to many other non-glutenous foods have similar peptide profiles of gluten. These cross-reactive foods can include gluten free grains (eg: rice, oats), milk, coffee, chocolate, corn, soy and eggs (just to name a few). Depending on what the tests indicate or what your symptoms show, you might have to eliminate these foods for good because your immune system has a way of remembering them = immune memory.
- You assume that a gluten free diet will cure all your health problems
Going gluten free can be a piece of your health puzzle, but it’s rarely the entire puzzle picture. Other issues like histamine intolerance, FODMAP intolerance and reactions to pesticides on foods are often overshadowed by gluten’s popularity as the number one bully for triggering inflammatory conditions. Every person is unique in their expression of illness. For one person, gluten intolerance may be their sole issue and removing gluten may relieve the majority of their symptoms. For others, gluten may minimize some symptoms, but other issues will also need to be addressed that may include allergies or sensitivities to other foods, MTHFR gene issues, fatty liver disease, and so much more. You’ll need a qualified health practitioner to help you navigate your personal health issues so the majority are managed more effectively.
We are all different, so I suggest getting a comprehensive functional medicine perspective to find out which foods your body reacts negatively to so you can eliminate them. And if gluten happens to be one of the problems for you, don’t allow the above six mistakes to hinder your efforts to eliminate it from your diet and live a healthier life.
If you would like to discuss your health issues with me, contact me at AcuPlus.