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Food & Nutrition

What is Gluten and Why Do I Care About It?

Gluten is clearly the food devil of the decade.

The eighties had fat, the nineties had carbs, then there was sugar and today the health hazard du jour is a mysterious substance named gluten.

Most people avoid gluten without having any idea what it actually is. We get so many people asking us whether gluten is really bad for them.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein molecule in wheat and certain other grains like spelt, barley and rye. Celiac disease is a severe intolerance to gluten, which affects 1% of the population, and can cause digestive issues, weight fluctuations and even inflammatory conditions like skin and joint problems as well as malabsorption of key nutrients. Many more people, however, have “non-Celiac gluten intolerance,” which is where their bodies and immune systems react to gluten negatively.

How do you know if you have “non-Celiac gluten intolerance”?

Gluten intolerance can cause headaches, joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, gas, bloating, acne, eczema and other symptoms. I commonly see people in my practice who remove gluten from their diets and see huge improvement in these areas. It makes sense that like anything in the body, there is a continuum, and something like gluten is not a black or white issue, not a Celiac or non-Celiac issue, but a spectrum of response severity.

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Should I go gluten-free?

It might help to take a break from gluten for a little while. Remove all refined grains and processed foods along with potential immune triggers like gluten and dairy from your diet for at least 6 weeks, then talk to your doctor and a health coach about reintroduction and the right balance of gluten in your diet.

What kinds of food contain gluten?

Wheat, barley, spelt, rye, and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye.

What foods should I avoid if I’m avoiding gluten?

Breads, most baked goods, pastas, a lot of sneaky processed foods like salad dressings, cheese, soy sauce and most beer.

Will a gluten-free diet make me healthy?

Not necessarily. Everyone’s body is different. That’s why we practise personalized medicine and do high-tech speciality testing here at Parsley Health to figure out what works best for you.

It’s important to remember that new fad foods labelled ‘gluten-free’ tend to be processed and usually incredibly high in sugar and carbs, which could make inflammation worse.

What are some signs of gluten sensitivity?

Fatigue, brain fog, hormone imbalances which can cause PMS, PCOS or infertility, stiff joints, acne, eczema, anxiety, depression and mood swings.

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