About Gluten &The Effects It Has On The Body
Gluten-free diets have become extremely popular lately, and most of us know someone who is currently living a gluten-free lifestyle. Some people embark on a gluten-free diet as the treatment for Celiac disease, which is an auto-immune disorder caused by gluten which attacks the lining of the small intestine. The only treatment for Celiac disease is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free products taste better than they did in the past and the quality and availability of these products are far greater than even a few years ago. Many people recognise that gluten-free products are healthier, and a gluten-free diet can encourage you to make other healthy food choices.
But far more individuals now have gluten sensitivity, which can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, or other issues. Gluten sensitivity is more difficult to accurately diagnose than Celiac disease, but many people claim to feel significantly better when they are on a gluten-free diet. Research is beginning to show the positive benefits of avoiding gluten whether or not you have an auto-immune disorder. Here are some of the many ways that you may benefit from a gluten-free diet.
10 Benefits of Eating Gluten-Free Products:
- 1. Better Digestive Health
Many people who have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease may also have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Gluten sensitivities are not as simple to diagnose as Celiac disease, but can clearly contribute to gastro-intestinal issues. Eliminate all gluten from your diet for at least two weeks to see if there is any improvement in your symptoms. Some people start to feel better within a few days of eliminating gluten from their diet.
- 2. Increased Energy Levels
Do you wish you could have a long nap every afternoon? Fatigue is a common complaint of those with Celiac disease or who have gastro-intestinal issues. If you are sensitive to gluten, it’s quite likely that your body is not absorbing the necessary amount of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. Even low levels of malnutrition can result in lowered energy levels, and episodes of fatigue, especially in the afternoon. Individuals with gluten intolerance often experience intense feeling of tiredness and weakness that are unexplained. In severe cases, you may become anemic due to malabsorption of iron, which can cause extreme fatigue, bruising, and shortness of breath.Eliminating gluten from your diet can work much better that drinking several cups of coffee, or grabbing a sugary treat that will pick you up initially, but leads to a crash later. By eliminating gluten, the inflammation in your intestines will begin to subside, and your body can start to absorb an adequate level of nutrients. In many cases, this can quickly increase your energy level.
- 3. Reduced Inflammation
In many individuals, gluten causes inflammation in both the gastro-intestinal system, and in other tissues throughout the body. It makes sense to take steps to reduce the amount of inflammation in your body, so consider eating gluten-free for several weeks to see if your symptoms improve. Even if you have just a slight reaction to gluten, going gluten-free can lead to some substantial improvements in your health, by contributing to lower inflammation levels.
- 4. Healthier Diet for a Healthier Life
Most people who start eating gluten-free develop a much better diet than they did previously. By eliminating junk food and processed food, your diet is automatically vastly improved. Gluten-free eating means no more bread, cakes, chips, beer, fried chicken or cookies (to name a few items!) Though this can be very distressing initially, the health benefits far outweigh the cravings. Processed food contains preservatives, artificial flavors and ingredients, and other chemicals that are not present in a whole foods diet.
- 5. Better Mood
According to research conducted by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, people with gluten sensitivities often experience ADHD-type symptoms, headaches, muddled thinking, low mood, anxiety, and depression. When a sensitive person consumes gluten, cytokines are released as a result of the inflammation in the intestines. Cytokines are inflammatory molecules that can interfere with normal brain functioning. High levels of cytokines may lead to Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and Parkinson’s disease. Gluten is also known to interfere with the production of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, both of which are related to mood, libido and sleep patterns.When gluten is removed from the diet, one of the most significant benefits can be improved neurological health, and mental well-being. After a few weeks on a gluten-free diet, people often remark that they can think more clearly, focus for longer periods of time, and experience greater contentment. In addition, following a gluten-free diet may lead to better nutrition levels and less pain, both of which are bound to improve your mood.
- 6. Improved Cholesterol Levels
Gluten-free diets eliminate many unhealthy foods, like chips and cake that can contain partially hydrogenated trans fats. This type of fat will raise your LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol and lower you HDL (healthy) cholesterol. Therefore, it’s not surprising that people who switch to a gluten-free diet often report that their cholesterol levels are lower.In addition, if you replace the gluten with fresh fruit and vegetables, you are doing yourself a double favor. Pick fruits and veggies that are high in fiber, like mangos and broccoli, for the most impact on your cholesterol levels.
- 7. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes
Recently, research indicates that since both Celiac’s and diabetes are autoimmune diseases, it is likely that they share a genetic basis. New guidelines suggest that people with type 1 diabetes should receive testing for both Celiac’s and gluten sensitivity, with a further recommendation that they try a gluten-free diet. By moving to a gluten-free diet, you or your family may help reduce their chances of getting Celiac disease.
- 8. Ward off Viruses and Germs
Many foods that are recommended on a gluten-free diet contain more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, than common processed foods that contain gluten. Assuming you substitute wheat and gluten products with healthy alternatives like fruits, vegetable, and high quality proteins, then a gluten-free lifestyle will most likely strengthen your immune system, providing you with an increased ability to combat viruses and germs.Food sensitivities, such as gluten, are one of the primary reasons for a weak immune system. In addition to a gluten-free diet, you may consider taking an adult strength multi-vitamin, to combat any potential nutritional deficiencies. Even minor nutritional deficiencies can result in a lowered resistance to common viruses like cold viruses, or the flu. If you are stressed, it is likely that your immune system is being challenged, as well. To get back on track, stick to a whole foods gluten-free diet, with significant emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of protein.
9. Promotes Healthy Weight-loss
Gluten-based foods can lead to bloating and weight gain for those with Celiac’s or gluten sensitivity, so eliminating these from your diet may help you lose weight. Many of us are ‘addicted’ to the carbohydrates found in the typical diet. When gluten is identified as the cause of intestinal issues, removing it from the diet means cutting out bread and pasta. In addition, you may save calories since you are no longer eating as much butter, cheese, and calorie rich sauces that often go with carbs.
- 10. Lower Chance of getting another Auto-immune Disease
Research has proven that many autoimmune diseases go together, meaning that if you already have one condition like Celiac’s disease, your risk of developing another is higher than the general population. By removing gluten from your diet now, you are effectively lowering the chances of developing other autoimmune diseases in the future.Gluten causes inflammation in the intestines, which in many individuals may lead to a ‘leaky gut’ where the intestines become ‘permeable’. Gluten, proteins and toxins then cross from the intestines to the bloodstream. The body’s immune system will often react to these particles in the bloodstream with a heightened immune response, thereby increasing your risk for developing another auto-immune disorder, like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or Hashimoto’s syndrome. By eliminating gluten from your diet, you immediately reduce the inflammation, and lower your chances of getting a second auto-immune disease.Author Noel Camcushan