The Gluten Debate – Could You be Sensitive to Gluten?
I wrote my original post about the Gluten Debate 6 years ago! Where does the time go?
At the time, I was in the very early stages of my Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) caper and I had no idea the depth and breadth of the life-changes it would bring.
Recently, a couple of long-term AIPers have asked me where I stand on the idea of reintroducing gluten to my diet after all this time following an AIP way of life.
My response is simple:
I will never knowingly eat gluten again.
I had thought to use this nudge from the community to give my original post bit of an overhaul, but since reading about what had been going on for me at the time was a trip down memory lane, I decided to keep it. It’s still relevant.
A couple of small updates for you:
- My lovely Dad remains resilient. Mum, too.
- As it happens, I’m catching up with that very same cousin next month – only now he lives in Adelaide. Times do change!
- If anything, I’m more committed to leading a gluten-free life. On the very odd occasion I have been unexpectedly exposed to gluten, the effects have been material – both in terms of physical symptoms and changes in mood.
- I know that steering clear of gluten is not a panacea – there are other key factors to this health caper. It’s why I now use my Wheel of Health in conjunction with the principles of the AIP to navigate my health ‘stuff’.
Here’s the original post from March 2014…
It’s been a bit of a mad time around here. We are well on our way to getting the house organised to sell. And then, last week, we were advised that my Dad was having surgery to have his thyroid removed. And, as resilient and invincible as my Dad is, I kind of felt a trip to New Zealand was required. So, while David toiled away here, I flew back to Auckland for a few days.
I’m so glad I did. I got to spend some lovely time with both my Mum and Dad. And, my Dad remains resilient and invincible after his surgery.
There’s something about BIG life events, isn’t there? Weddings, funerals, health scares – they all bring family together. And, this trip home was no exception. I caught up with my one of my favourite favourite cousins. It was just fab’ to see him. It’s been too long between drinks.
We had a good old chin-wag. And, I learnt something. The skin issues that have plagued me for years, and lead me to the Autoimmune Protocol, extend beyond my immediate family. My cousin suffers from similar problems. POWERFUL genes, these Frankham genes!
Any-who, we talked a lot about gluten. And, please trust me when I say that I can bang on about the nasty effects of gluten for a long time. I’m almost evangelical about it. You know how when smokers give up cigarettes, they often become the staunchest and most vocal anti-smokers? Well, that’s me about the evil effects of gluten. Once, I was the bread-loving queen. Even now, the idea of artisan, sourdough has me salivating.
But no more for this girl.
After 23 years of trying to get rid of my skin issues, not one doctor suggested that gluten could potentially be the problem. And that giving up gluten may be a giant step towards clearing my chronic, painful and shameful Hidradenitis Suppurativa up almost completely.
And, then I learnt about all the other side effects that can be caused by gluten.
So now – enter the glutren debate! – I actually think everyone should give up gluten for 30 days – just to see how they feel. If there’s no change, well – no harm done. But, if you feel better; if your skin is clearer; if your brain loses its fog; if your joints stop aching – then gluten may well be the culprit. Isn’t it worth it just to see?
Could you be sensitive to gluten?
Gluten is a large molecule. It’s very abrasive to the lining of your gastrointestinal tract. And, it’s impossible for you to digest.
Whenever you consume foods with gluten such as wheat, most oats, barley or rye, you risk damaging the lining of your gastrointestinal tract. In fact, the more gluten you eat, the greater the risk. Something to think about when the norm for many AIP muggles is cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner…
Once your gut lining has been damaged, you set yourself up for intestinal permeability which can then lead to all sorts of food sensitivities, skin problems, brain fog, depression, and many autoimmune conditions.
PERHAPS THE GLUTEN DEBATE IS Something to think about?
Unless, like me, you do your food shop at the local farmers market, the best way to go gluten-free is to shop the periphery of your supermarket. Ignore the temptation of all the processed gluten-free options. Don’t even look. Sure, you may lose the gluten, but the other highly processed ingredients aren’t doing you any favours either.
Rather, try adding in more plant-based foods. It’s amazing what you can do with vegetables when you start experimenting. Aim to make 3/4 of your plate vegetables and you’re off to a great start.
Gluten Sensitivity Warning Signs
There are any number of common potential warning signs that gluten is not your friend. Here are a few of them:
- Unexplained skin rashes – eczema, acne, psoriasis – and yes, Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) – may be greatly relieved by eliminating gluten from your diet
- Migraines and headaches – One study showed that 56% of people diagnosed with migraine headaches had an underlying gluten sensitivity. When gluten was removed from their diet, their migraines resolved.
- Brain fog – In some people, gluteomorphines found in gluten, can act like morphine causing brain fog. ‘A clearer mind’ is a common benefit reported after people have removed gluten from their diet.
- Depression – Gluten can affect your body’s ability to absorb certain important nutrients (things like B vitamins, iron, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids and zinc). These nutrients are essential for both mood and brain health.
- Joint pain – The body often sees gluten as the enemy and attacks. This forms immune responses that, in some, can settle in the joints causing swelling, pain and inflammation.