gluten sensitivity – why it affects all of us AND why going on a gluten free diet can cause problems!
so you should take your food sensitivities seriously.
I went to a conference earlier this year where 3 very high quality speakers delivered a fascinating and mind blowing day of non-stop attitude-changing information.
Alessio Fasano, who leads a top team of researchers on coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity, explained how, only 20 years ago, the United States did not recognise Coeliac disease as ‘a thing’; it existed in other parts of the world, but not in the US.
Through his work as a paediatric gastroenterologist he discovered that coeliac disease was indeed as prevalent in the US as anywhere else. This was only about 20 years ago.
In the early 2000s, one of his PhD students brought up the subject of gluten sensitivity. Even he said, “no, there’s no such thing, only coeliac disease”, but the researcher continued with her work, and established that, in fact, there is such a thing. It has now been named ‘Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity’.
So if you think you are sensitive to wheat and/or gluten (gluten is contained in wheat, barley and rye, and is used in many processed foods), then you probably ARE!
It has now been shown that:
- Humans do not have an enzyme to digest gluten at all.
- Proteins in gluten can cause damage to the lining of the gut.
- Damage to the gut lining eventually leads to the migration of substances into the blood which shouldn’t be there.
- These invaders cause the immune system to react.
- Immune reactions can take many forms:
- Joint pain
- Mental health issues – depression, anxiety etc
- Brain fog
- And more…
- We might not all be affected with symptoms, because some people will have a more effective ‘rolling repair’ system than others.
- It can take many years for an effect to show itself in symptoms.
- The protective mucosal covering gets thinner
- The gut cells become slightly less tightly closed
So to the next part – why, then, can changing to a gluten free diet actually be harmful??
- Most gluten free products are nutritionally empty, because the focus is on creating a texture and taste to mimic the 'real thing', so if you swap like for like, you are almost certainly getting less nutritional value.
- Wheat, because it has played such a large part in our diets for so long, is one of the main sources of prebiotic foods. Prebiotic foods feed and encourage good bacteria in the gut.
- Good bacteria is now understood to play a vital role in many if not most aspects of health, and one of the best indicators of good health is a large, diverse population of gut bacteria.
- This good stuff (also known as gut flora) is encouraged or discouraged by the food we eat, our medications, alcohol, sugar and lifestyle, including stress.
- We as a society are eating a pretty monotonous diet these days, consisting of a small variety of foods, not enough vegetables, and a lot of processed and nutritionally depleted processed ‘non-foods’.
- Nutritionally useful substances.
- Prebiotics to encourage good bacteria.
- If you need to be gluten free you NEED to be gluten free.
- If you need to be gluten free you also NEED eat a diverse diet with lots of vegetables, including things like onions, leeks and garlic daily.
If you'd like to know more, why not come to my 'Enjoy Eating Gluten Free' workshop?