This post featuring 8 reasons to go gluten-free in the New Year contains affiliate links. This article should not be used in lieu of solid medical advice. Please consult your doctor and/or health care professionals before making changes to your diet or medications. Please see my disclosures and disclaimers.
There’s no time like the present to work towards healing your body and feeling your best self again, especially if this past year has been riddled with its fair share of ailments and/or weight gain.
While millions of Americans will be contemplating a “diet” in the New Year, I’m proposing that you instead ditch the diet and take a closer look at the gluten-free “lifestyle.” (Remember, being gluten-free isn’t a diet, it’s a way of life!)
There are so many reasons to go gluten-free – and depending on your health – it may just be the solution you’ve been searching for to change your life forever! Maybe you want to ditch a chronic ailment once and for all, become less dependent on costly doctor’s visits and prescription medication, or maybe you just want to look and feel better and more youthful. Whatever the case, gluten might the natural remedy you’ve been searching for.
And best of all…. you don’t have to have celiac disease to experience amazing benefits from the gluten-free lifestyle. I’d even go out on a limb and say that I truly believe millions of people can be helped by transitioning to a gluten-free diet.
In fact, more than 18 million Americans have a gluten sensitivity (many don’t even know it!), and we know from research that gluten causes an inflammatory response in all humans (Read: Why Gluten is Toxic to All Humans). We know this because a study that tested the human response to wheat on (1) recently diagnosed celiacs, (2) celiacs on a gluten-free diet for at least one year, (3) people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and (4) people who had no problem with gluten showed that every person exposed to wheat showed signs of damage to their intestines.
“Every human, when they eat gluten, they activate the genes for intestinal permeability,” says Dr. Tom O’Bryan, author of The Autoimmune Fix, adding that “gluten is toxic to all humans.” Don’t believe me? Read the study here.
You may actually have a gluten sensitivity and not even realize it. I encourage you to read this article, 10 Gluten Sensitivity Symptoms [With or Without Celiac Disease]. It lists the common symptoms associated with a gluten sensitivity. I have a feeling you had NO IDEA some of these symptoms were connected to an unmanaged gluten sensitivity as most people think a gluten sensitivity is only connected to digestive disorders.
If you are contemplating a “lifestyle” change in the New Year, and want to better understand how ditching gluten can help you, then take a closer look at these seven reasons the gluten-free lifestyle may help you reclaim our health in the New Year and beyond. Good luck!
(1) You’ll Likely Feel Better… Much Better
Have you been dealing with any sort of chronic pain or issue this year? Think long and hard. Perhaps you have chronic migraines, eczema, mouth sores, joint pain, gastrointestinal or digestive issues, thyroid issues, or chronic fatigue?
The reasons you might suffer from any of these ailments could be due to gluten. Gluten is a very hard to digest protein. For people with celiac disease, the protein damages the small intestine, making it virtually impossible for someone with celiac disease to properly digest and absorb food. Every time someone with celiac eats gluten, their body launches an attack on the healthy tissue surrounding the small intestine (this is why celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disease).
While you may not have celiac disease, the detriments of eating gluten can be just as serious for someone with an unmanaged gluten sensitivity. Over time, gluten will chip away at your health, making your symptoms worse and eventually turning into more serious conditions like cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, dementia, and even early death. Don’t believe me?
A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) set out to understand mortality issues associated with gluten disorders. This is the largest study ever published on this topic. Researchers found that someone with gluten sensitivity has a higher risk of early death than someone with celiac disease!
You might wonder how this is possible.
It’s because people with celiac disease take their gluten-free diet serious while someone with a gluten sensitivity is likely more lax about it. They cheat and allow gluten to slowly but surely chip away at their health. (You can learn more about the differences between gluten sensitivity vs. celiac disease in this article.)
If you’re ready to feel better and lose the chronic inflammation in your life, you should definitely take a closer look at the gluten-free lifestyle. (And I recommend reading, Don’t Cheat On Your Gluten-Free Diet.)
(2) You May Lose Weight
The idea that someone can lose weight by going gluten-free is one that makes many people with celiac disease roll their eyes. I get it. I, too, believe that you cannot lose weight just by going gluten-free when you have celiac disease. A gluten-free donut is filled with just as much sugar and refined carbohydrates as a regular donut.
But inflammation weight gain is real. Think about when your hurt your leg. It’s usually swollen and inflammed until it heals. Now think about if that kind of inflammation existed inside of you ALL. THE. TIME. You’d be retaining “inflammation weight” day-in and day-out.
Dr. Mark Hyman says that the root cause of inflammation can be anything from the sugar you eat, to high doses of the wrong kinds of fats and oils in your diet, hidden allergens and food sensitivities, as well as chronic stress and hidden infections. These all trigger what he says is a “raging, unseen inflammation deep in your cells and tissues.” He also says that 125 million Americans suffer from some sort of chronic inflammation too!
If you want to have a chance at permanent weight loss (and feeling better), you must address inflammation by eliminating hidden food allergies or sensitivities and by eating an anti-inflammatory diet filled with foods that are good for you. (You can even consider doing a Whole30 challenge for one-month to see how various foods make you feel. The Whole30 challenge is the ultimate elimination diet!)
Remember that, for many people, eliminating gluten is only PART of the problem when it comes to losing weight. Other inflammatory foods, like sugar, unhealthy oils and fats, and dairy, as well as excessive consumption of white, refined carbohydrates also can contribute to inflammation and weight gain or retention. A clean diet filled with anti-inflammatory foods will be your best chance at losing the inflammation weight for good.
(3) You May Heal Your Gut
It’s no secret that gluten is a hard to digest protein. It’s been discussed at length by some of the leading thought leaders in gluten disorders.
In fact, Dr. Alessio Fasano, one of the leading celiac disease researchers in the world, says that a leaky gut is a primary trigger for all autoimmune diseases.
This little hard-to-digest protein can cause a slew of issues in your body.
For starters, if your body has trouble digesting gluten, gluten may be the root cause of why your stomach acid bubbles up every time you eat. When this happens, your body is telling you that the food you’re eating is hard for it to break down and digest. Rather than taking proton pump inhibitors and antacids to queal the stomach bubbles, try removing the food(s), such as gluten, causing the stomach acid to bubble up in the first place. Many people find relief from heartburn and acid reflux simply by eliminating gluten.
Additionally, people with celiac disease find that consuming gluten causes the cells in their body to attack healthy tissue surrounding the small intestine. If you have celiac disease, eliminating gluten (and not cheating) is a must.
If someone has a gluten sensitivity, gluten is hard for them to digest too. These undigested gluten particles are going through the stomach without being properly broken down. They then break through the thin walls of the small intestine and enter the bloodstream (leaky gut), causing inflammation at a weak link in your chain (this weak link is different for everyone – it could be your brain, nervous system, skin or digestive system, etc.).
Dr. John Douillard says, “… the gluten protein in its undigested form is such an irritant that it can inflame and separate the intestinal villi, and allow gluten and other undigested proteins and toxins to move into the lymphatic circulation surrounding the digestive tract. Bloating, fatigue, brain fog, compromised immunity, allergies and numerous forms of discomfort can all be tied to gluten-related lymph congestion due to poor digestion.”
Dr. Amy Meyers, author of The Autoimmune Solution, says that gluten is one of the main causes of leaky gut in her patients with thyroid issues and autoimmune diseases, and she says that leaky gut is not just found in those with celiac disease rather it’s seen among any patients she sees with a gluten sensitivity.
Dr. Meyers writes on her website that “when anyone, whether they have gluten sensitivity or not, eats a gluten-containing food, the gluten proteins make their way through the stomach and arrive at the small intestine, where the body responds by producing zonulin, a chemical that signals the tight junctions of the intestinal walls to open up, creating temporary permeability. This permeability will heal as the gut cells renew every 48 hours. However, if you have gluten sensitivity and you eat gluten, then this permeability will not heal in that 48 hours and your gut remains leaky.”
When your small intestines are damaged, toxins, microbes, and food particles “leak” into your bloodstream and your immune system goes on high alert to neutralize all of these threats. When a gut is leaky, the threats keep coming and such threats continually puts your body in a state of chronic inflammation and on a path towards a full-blown autoimmune disease.
In other words, the path to healing your gut (and calming inflammation) starts with eliminating foods that put your body in a state of inflammation in the first place.
(4) You’ll Likely Eat Better
One of the forced benefits of eating gluten-free is that you end up passing on some of the most unhealthy and readily available foods at the table.
For example, you’ll pass on the bread basket at dinner and, for the most part, you’ll pass on those heavy-caloric desserts too. By passing on the bread basket and dessert tray, you’ll:
- Avoid consuming unneeded calories. When you consume less calories (especially calories from nutritionally devoid foods) you’ll naturally shed the pounds;
- Avoid spikes in your blood sugar. Did you know that bread has one of the highest glycemic loads you can consume?!?
- Naturally enjoy healthier foods, like a salad appetizer (instead of bread), and you’ll be hungry to eat your entree (which I hope consists of a healthy protein, fresh vegetable and gluten-free starch).
- Enjoy desserts in moderation. When desserts are not readily available, you’ll enjoy them as a treat (as they should be enjoyed) rather than an everyday occurrence.
Overall, eating a no gluten diet will encourage you to think long and hard about everything that crosses your lips, inevitably helping you crowd out the foods that often damage your body the most.
(5) You May Prevent (and Maybe Reverse) Disease
Many people on the gluten spectrum are well on their way to getting what many experts, including Dr. O’Bryan, say are preventable diseases. Most people get diagnosed with serious afflictions – including autoimmune disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia – only after significant tissue damage has already been done.
And you guessed it… the root cause of autoimmune disease is inflammation.
Dr. O’Bryan’s comprehensive work on this subject demonstrates that all inflammation is triggered by some sort of sensitivity to gluten, another food sensitivity and/or environmental exposures – all which pour “gasoline on the fire.”
In The Autoimmune Fix, Dr. O’Bryan says the science is clear. “You can arrest and eventually reverse the damage of many autoimmune diseases when you stop throwing gasoline on the fire.”
Remember, chronic ailments are not the results of bad genes or aging. We are not victims of our genes and you have quite a bit of control in how your genes express themselves (this is called epigenetics). You CAN reserve damage and disease by changing how you eat and live your life.
(6) You’ll Likely Look Better
You may find that you’re not only losing inflammation weight, but your skin is glowing too when you go gluten-free.
After eliminating gluten (and excessive dairy) from my diet, and adding in lots of green juices and anti-inflammatory foods – my skin began to glow. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and is a direct reflection of the health of your insides.
If you want to rid of acne, red bumps (chicken skin) and slow the aging process of your skin, you must eat in a way that heals vs. hurts you. As discussed, gluten is the root cause of so many chronic inflammatory diseases in the U.S.
(7) You’ll Likely Improve the Health of Your Brain
There has been extensive research about the brain-gut connection.
Dr. David Perlmutter is one of the thought leaders in this space and changed how we think about brain disorders when he published his #1 New York Times bestselling book, Grain Brain, in 2013. In the book, Dr. Perlmutter discusses how gluten affects all sorts of brain disorders from anxiety and depression to headaches, migraines, dementia and cognitive decline (Alzheimer’s).
Once again, when you rid of inflammation (which we know is often caused by gluten), you may just rid of all the devastating symptoms that come as a result.
Want to have a healthy brain (or encourage a healthy brain well into old age)? Ditch the gluten and protect your most precious organ from permanent damage.
(8) You’ll Likely Have More Energy
There are so many reasons that your energy can be zapped due to gluten consumption.
For starters, if you have celiac disease, your body’s inability to absorb nutrients is off the charts. Lose the gluten, heal the lining of your small intestine, and you’ll find your body is ready and willing to properly absorb nutrients from the food you eat.
Furthermore, many people with thyroid disorders suffer from low energy. In fact, thyroid issues are often diagnosed once you complain to your doctor about low energy. For many people with thyroid issues, including those with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition, the root cause of their thyroid dysfunction is often linked to an undiagnosed and unmanaged gluten sensitivity.
As Dr. Meyers, says “… gluten is also particularly damaging and inflammatory to the thyroid and that ditching gluten is one of the most important steps you can take in restoring your thyroid function.” She goes on to say that the majority of thyroid dysfunction is caused by autoimmunity. She says that one of the biggest contributing factors to autoimmunity is gluten as gluten wreaks havoc on the gut, increases the inflammatory fire inside of you, and it can directly cause your immune system to attack your thyroid.
Ready to Get Started?
I’m not here to convince you to be gluten-free; rather, I’m here to tell you how you might be helped by ridding gluten for good.
However, I also want to warn you that eating gluten-free is a difficult lifestyle to maintain, and, on top of it all, you won’t get much support or sympathy from your gluten eating friends either. In fact, many of your gluten eating friends will send you articles about why you don’t need to be gluten-free just so they can justify their own reasons for continuing to eat gluten.
But you must be stronger and smarter – and not so quick to judge the GF way of life.
I suggest, instead, that you experiment on yourself. Eliminate gluten for 90 days and see if your [fill in the blank] symptom(s) clear up.
Only you can know for sure how gluten is making and keeping you sick and fat. And you may have just learned why gluten is the root cause of disease in your body and that by eliminating it, you might be able to reverse damage and turn your health around for good.
Ready to give the gluten-free lifestyle a go? If so, I’ve got everything you need to understand the gluten-free diet and get started. Just visit my Start Here page to begin your journey…