Find out if you are intolerant or sensitive to gluten and eliminate it to improve body composition and health. We won't start this article by saying that everyone should avoid gluten, although there is evidence that gluten is a difficult protein for all humans to digest and they might be better avoiding it.
Humans have never had adequate stomach enzymes necessary to break gluten down so that it can be properly digested, a problem that has been made much worse by the genetic engineering of wheat over the last 100 years. According to a new study analysis published in BMC Medicine, the amount of gluten in the wheat of today has increased to 14 percent from 4 percent a century ago.
Not only is the wheat we eat much more difficult and dangerous for our bodies to have to process than the wheat our great grandparents ate, but rates of gluten sensitivity have increased dramatically over the last half century.
Gluten Sensitivity Has Increased Dramatically Since the 1950s
Two fascinating studies that tested for gluten sensitivity in military men using blood samples that had been taken 50 years before found that rates of gluten intolerance have increased 4-fold over the last 50 years. The men from that study who lived with undiagnosed gluten sensitivity had nearly a 5 times greater risk of dying from all causes during the 50-year study period.
Fifteen Tips to Successfully Eliminate Gluten:
- Eliminate all processed foods. Minimize eating gluten-free substitutes such as bread and crackers. If you are transitioning to a whole food-based diet at the same time you are eliminating gluten, it may be helpful to use gluten-free substitutes to help you make the transition. But, be cautious about eating a lot of high-carb substitutes because this may compromise body composition and insulin health.
- Eat high-quality protein from whole foods sources such as wild and grass-fed meats, beans, nuts, and seeds. Consider adopting a Paleo-style diet to ensure you are getting all the nutrients for optimal energy and body composition.
- Eat a wide variety of vegetables (especially leafy greens) and fruit (especially berries).
- Focus on getting adequate fiber. Supplement with a variety of high-quality fiber blends if your fiber intake is low. Remember, if you are eating a high-protein diet, you very likely need to take extra fiber.
- Take glutamine because it will boost the immune system and help seal up gaps in the intestinal wall that are caused by gluten.
- Eat plenty of probiotic foods or consider taking a probiotic supplement to provide the healthy, live bacteria found in yogurt that will support digestive health.
- Also, consider taking a prebiotic supplement, which is not a live bacteria, but a fiber that, when consumed, causes vigorous growth of the beneficial probiotic bacteria in the gut. You need the prebiotic present for the probiotic to grow.
There are a variety of prebiotics, including oligosaccharides, oligofructose and inulin, which are found in onions, garlic, yams, leeks, asparagus, bananas, chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion, and wheat and barley (the only two to contain gluten). Prebiotics maintain gut health, aid in the absorption of magnesium and calcium, improve glucose tolerance, and may fight the development of cancer tumors.
People who eliminate gluten need to make an effort to get prebiotcs because studies show that in the 1990s, 70 to 80 percent of the prebiotics in the American diet came from wheat.
8) If you want to cook with flour, use coconut, pea, quinoa, or flaxseed flour (all gluten-free).
9) Avoid all wheat products: Wheat, rye, barley, kamut, chapatti flour, brewer’s yeast, farina, semolina, spelt, bulgur, couscous, malt, seitan, triticale, and graham flour.
10) Avoid oats because although they are technically gluten free, they are often processed in plants that also process wheat and are commonly contaminated by gluten.
11) Consider avoiding corn, especially genetically modified and processed corn, because there is data that corn is the second most common food sensitivity after gluten. Opt for organically grown corn if you choose to include it in your diet.
12) Be very careful of sauces, condiments, and spices because even though items may not appear to contain gluten in their ingredients, gluten is often used as a stabilizing agent. Gluten is used to create a smooth texture in condiments and sauces, such as soy sauce and ketchup.
13) Be careful of being exposed to gluten in strange places such is in medications, postage-stamp glue, chewing gum, and cosmetics, such as lipstick.
14) Always think ahead when planning meals and snacks. Obviously, you aren’t going to be able to rely on getting edible food without some effort if you are trying to avoid gluten.
15) If you choose to eliminate gluten, have confidence in your decision and stick to it if it makes you feel physically better. Don’t let others dictate what you are going to put in your mouth.
A few pitfalls do exist to eating a healthy gluten-free diet:
Gluten-free substitutes (bread, cookies, crackers, pizza crust, etc.) are often higher in calories and carb content than the conventional gluten-filled version. Relying on them may cause insulin resistance and fat gain.
Products that are labeled gluten free or that were previously gluten free may not actually be gluten free. Companies regularly reformulate products, and although a product can’t be labeled gluten free if it contains gluten, if a product or food is made in a plant or kitchen that also processes gluten, it may be contaminated by gluten.
There have been cases of chefs intentionally contaminating food that is supposed to be cooked without gluten (yes, really). Whether this is due to a psychological problem on the part of the chef or to the gluten-free backlash is unclear. The point is that you need to be cautious if you need to avoid gluten.