Be The Best Gluten Free You Can Be!
A true gluten free lifestyle means more than just removing wheat from your diet. Being truly gluten free can be more complex than you think, but with a little info you can detox more of this pesky protein from your system and live gluten free with ease. In this month’s Brookview Wellness Blog post, we are going to break down gluten free beyond the trends and show you how to really be gluten free.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a binding protein that is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Due to its sticky nature, gluten is what holds together your bread, crackers, muffins and any other grain based foods. You can also find gluten in sauces, condiments, spreads and most packaged and processed foods. It is a popular addition to many of our most common foods due to its ability to bind and create desired textures.
What is gluten intolerance, sensitivity and Celiac Disease?
All of these terms are used to describe various degrees of severity in a patient’s immune response to gluten. Gluten intolerance is when our bodies experience uncomfortable symptoms, ranging from digestive to cognitive, after ingesting gluten. Studies have shown that as much as 7% of the population is sensitive to gluten. The symptoms experienced with a gluten sensitivity or total intolerance vary, but the most common symptoms are as follows:
- Irritable bowel
- Brain fog
- Mood disorders such as Anxiety & Depression
- Body aches and abdominal pain
A gluten sensitivity does not necessarily lead to a Celiac Disease diagnosis. If you suspect gluten may be the cause of your symptoms, a blood test can be done to determine the scope of your allergy and lead you in the right dietary direction for relief. An Elimination Food Plan can also help you discover a Gluten Sensitivity, as well as many other food sensitivities. It takes a minimum of 6 weeks to remove the gluten proteins from your body. Once you remove those proteins, you also should consider a healing program for your gastrointestinal tract.
How can I be truly gluten free?
Be Aware of Hidden Gluten
Did you know that your condiments may contain gluten? How about those deli meats? While just removing bread and obvious sources of gluten from your diet may be beneficial, it is not enough to quell the discomfort of a gluten sensitivity. Gluten is in many foods that may surprise you. This is the reason some people do not feel the benefits of a “gluten free” diet when they have spent weeks establishing new eating habits.
If you are unsure if a product contains gluten, it is always best to read the label before you consume it. Look for common names for gluten such as wheat, rye and barley but also check for semolina or spelt. The FDA requires that all wheat containing products have a label stating such, but that is not a foolproof method for detecting gluten. Check out the list below to identify some of these hidden gluten foods before they catch you by surprise.
There are non-consumable products that surprisingly contain gluten as well. Beauty products are a culprit that can cause a topical reaction to a highly sensitive person. Lips balm, lotions and moisturizers can all contain gluten as an emulsifier and stabilizer. If you have removed all obvious traces of gluten in your diet, perhaps some of your symptoms come from these sources of hidden gluten.
Be aware of cross-contamination
Removing gluten containing foods from your diet and beauty regimen is an amazing accomplishment and will leave you feeling much better. While on your way to being truly gluten free, keep in mind that cross-contamination can occur and cause a mysterious disturbance to your new normal. Cross contamination happens when your gluten free food comes into contact with a gluten containing food, directly or indirectly. Here are a few tips to avoid cross contamination:
- Establish a gluten free toaster at home and do not use community toasters and waffle irons like those at hotel breakfasts and buffets.
- Purchase a new set of pots, pans and baking sheets
- Ask restaurants if they have a gluten free fryer before they prepare your food. Using a common fryer with traditionally breaded foods can cause significant cross contamination.
- Don’t share utensils or plates
- Clean surfaces thoroughly
While cross contamination is only a serious concern for those who are highly sensitive or diagnosed with Celiac Disease, it is good to know when these little exposures might occur to minimize any impact they may have on your gluten free efforts.
Be aware of Gliadin cross-reactive foods
That’s a mouthful, right? Gliadin is a protein component of wheat and the culprit behind the immune response to a gluten allergy or sensitivity. The response is the result of the gliadin not breaking down in your system after consumption, causing a symptomatic reaction and inflammation. Patients with Celiac Disease produce particular antibodies that attack gluten as well as the tissue of the small intestines. Certain foods when ingested may be confused for gluten and gluten proteins like gliadin causing a similar reaction in your system.
Many of these foods are heavily-consumed substitutes used by new gluten free dieters. If you are following a seemingly gluten free diet but still have similar immune responses to food, this cross reactive protein response may be the issue.
Being really gluten free may not be as easy as you first thought, but with some knowledge under your belt, you can make a great effort to eliminate gluten from your diet. If you are interested in embarking on a Gluten Free diet, Dr. Brooke would love to schedule a discovery call with you to discuss the process. Together you can work toward a healthier lifestyle that is sure to improve your wellness and quality of life. Check out the Brookview Wellness website for more information on functional medicine and to schedule a call today.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice or be used for diagnosis or treatment.