For the last couple of weeks, I’ve tried to completely eliminate wheat/gluten from my diet. I won’t lie: It hasn’t been easy at all.
I never thought I would have a difficult time — or even miss wheat at all. But now I truly understand the power that it can have on the mind and the body.
Why am I eliminating wheat from my diet? Because I’m trying to rule out a gluten sensitivity, which is an issue that’s becoming more common today. And for those of you who are in doubt, it definitely can be a real issue.
A gluten sensitivity can cause uncomfortable symptoms and can make some of us feel downright miserable.
But before you give up wheat or other gluten-containing foods for good, do a little investigative work. Why? Because giving it up isn’t necessarily right for everybody.
What Is a Gluten Sensitivity?
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and other grains such as rye, barley, and spelt. It’s also used as an additive in many processed foods.
A gluten sensitivity is believed to be an immune-related reaction. One suspected culprit is gliadin,1 which is a component of gluten.
Normally, your immune system produces antibodies to fight viruses or bacteria, but in a gluten-sensitivity reaction, antibodies may be produced against gluten.
Should We All Get on the Anti-Gluten Bandwagon?
Does everyone have to give up gluten? The short answer is no. Simply put, most people are not sensitive to it. However, if you’re suffering from symptoms of gluten sensitivity but cannot pinpoint the cause, you may want to eliminate gluten from your diet temporarily in order to eliminate the possibility of being gluten-sensitive.
Some of the symptoms frequently reported and linked to gluten sensitivity include the following: abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, fogginess, headaches, tiredness, rashes, joint and muscle pain, leg numbness, and depression.1
If this sounds like you, please read on!
Removing Gluten from Your Diet May Help You Feel Better
What are some of the benefits of going gluten-free? For one, you actually might feel better if you truly are gluten-sensitive. A few of the conditions that have been shown to improve after giving up gluten include IBS, autism, dermatitis,2 and headaches.3
Research has shown that certain diseases are associated with anti-gliadin antibodies, leading to the theory that a link may exist between these diseases and gluten sensitivity. This doesn’t mean that gluten causes these diseases but only that it warrants further investigation.
These illnesses have been associated with anti-gliadin antibodies:4-6
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Autoimmune thyroid disease
- Liver disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Multiple sclerosis
How does this apply to you? If you have any of these conditions, perhaps you should find out if you’re sensitive to gluten. After all, it can’t really hurt to experiment with your diet a bit.
Testing for Gluten Sensitivity
There’s no “standard” way to diagnose a gluten sensitivity, but one approach is to undergo a food sensitivity test. This screens a sample of your blood for IgG antibodies, which may be produced in response to gluten.1
Another way to test for gluten sensitivity is to eliminate wheat and other gluten-containing foods from your diet for at least two weeks. This is probably the best way since certain cases of gluten sensitivity are idiopathic, i.e., the true cause can’t be determined.
After your trial, evaluate your health. If you feel better being gluten-free, then you may want to say goodbye to gluten, or if you don’t want to be that drastic, limit your intake of gluten.
A Life Without Gluten …
A life without gluten isn’t all that bad. It may be hard, but it’s not impossible.
Many people object to this diet because it seems very limiting. However, there are plenty of things that can be eaten. You just have to be a little creative.
Here are some gluten-free foods that are worth trying:
- Almond crackers
- Flax crackers
- Millet bread
- Buckwheat pancakes (No wheat here! Buckwheat is actually a fruit.)
- Rice flour muffins
- Mung bean noodles
Don’t forget — there are a variety of gluten-free products in your local supermarket too! Be on the lookout for them.
- J Clin Gastroenterol. 2012 Sep;46(8):680-5.
- JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2012 Jan;36(1 Suppl):68S-75S.
- Neurology. 2001 Feb 13;56(3):385-8.
- Klin Med (Mosk). 1998;76(2):33-5.
- Psychiatry Res. 2012 Mar 30;196(1):68-71.
- Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Sep;1173:343-9.