Growing up in The Netherlands, I never even heard of the word 'gluten'. Perhaps it's something that has only been spoken about in the recent years. So why all of a sudden is gluten the new bad guy in the health and wellness world?
Did you know that the grains (mostly wheat and rye) are different in Europe, than what we use in Australia (and America)? In Europe they use a wheat called soft wheat. In Australia and America they use red hard wheat. Red hard wheat makes a softer and fluffier bread, due to the higher gluten content. Another thing that is different between Europe and The Netherlands is that just after WWII Australia used tons of the pesticide Round Up to protect the crops. Apart from the fact that ingesting pesticides is obviously unhealthy there is another thing at play. Round Up actually changes the proteins in gluten. Gluten consists of the proteins glutenin and gliadin. This altered protein is often what we struggle with to digest properly.
So how it is possible that I can eat bread for days when I'm visiting my family in The Netherlands but feel sluggish and bloated after eating bread in Australia?
If you are sensitive to gluten or are have coeliac disease, what happens in the body is that your body doesn't recognize gluten as 'food'. It activates the immune system to fight the gluten as if it were a disease. In the process of fighting your body damages the intestinal lining and it's vili. Vili are little hairs that sit on your intestinal lining and help you absorb all the nutrients. When these get destroyed you struggle with effectively absorbing nutrients. This can lead to all kinds of diseases.
Another thing that is linked to gluten sensitivity is Leaky Gut Syndrome. What happens when you have Leaky Gut Syndrome is that the walls of your intestinal lining become weaker. In a healthy state you intestinal lining is very strong and has little gaps that let through water and nutrients into the bloodstream. When this become weak the gaps become bigger and food, bacteria and toxins leak through the gut directly into you blood stream. This can lead to autoimmune diseases like coeliac disease.
A lot of people don't actually know if they suffer from gluten sensitivity or if there is something else at play that causes digestive issues like bloating and constipation. Lack of energy and the feeling of brainfog. Abdominal pain and malabsorption of nutrients (always being low on iron for instance) and even skin conditions.
You can get this tested if you want but what removing gluten generally does for your body is the following. IF your body is sensitive to gluten it will give your body a bit of a rest. Our bodies are extremely good at healing themselves, as long as we give it the opportunity. So when we don't eat gluten for a period of time your vili and intestinal linings will heal themselves. Your immune system will be put to rest and you will experience less of the above mention symptoms.
The thing is, removing gluten can't harm you, as long as you replace it with wholefood nutrition. Bread and other grains with gluten contain a whole range of mineral, vitamins and nutrients that are important for healthy living. So as a health coach I will never tell you to go on a restrictive diet. That doesn't work. I work with the concept of 'crowding out'. So instead of having bread for breakfast, we can have oats loaded with fruit, nuts, seeds and all things good from nature. This way you will still get vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your body needs.
If you like to experiment with this yourself try to avoid these foods:
wheat, rye, barley, pasta, bread, beer, cereal, cookies, cakes and pastries. And bascially all processed foods have wheat or gluten in them. So stay away from those!
Wholefoods that naturally don't contain gluten you eat instead:
Rice, oats, quinoa, flax, millet, sorghum, tapioca, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth
A little side note on oats, if you can try to buy certified gluten free oats. Most normal oats is being processed in factories that also process wheat products and there is a chance of cross contamination.
I think there are three reasons why gluten has gained so much 'popularity'. 1. We eat a lot more processed foods. 2. People are more conscious about their health and are actively seeking solutions for their health issues. 3. It can take years for disease to develop and become symptomatic. So you can be eating processed food for years and not have any symptoms and then suddenly your body can't handle it anymore.
So take charge of your health now!
Feel free to contact me for a free discovery call to see where your health is at!