Gluten-free. Sometimes it seems as if it’s a free bandwagon that everyone’s jumping on. If everyone is doing it, why shouldn’t you? The fact is, going gluten-free is not for everyone. Still, everywhere you go, there it is, taunting you. Grocery stores shelves are stocked with gluten-free products, restaurant menus have gluten-free options, and in case you haven’t noticed, there are gluten-free cookbooks and diets making the rounds. So should you go gluten-free?
Here are some common Q&A’s to get you in the know before you decide.
What’s all the hype? Especially when we’ve been eating bread for hundreds of years without any problems?
First off, the bread our grandmothers made is not the bread we eat today. Now our wheat has been hybridized and that means the bread products we buy rise into larger, fluffier, chewier loaves with the help of – you guessed it – more gluten.
What is gluten anyway? Gluten is a protein which can be misidentified by the immune system as a foreign invader, like a virus or pollen. Your body then creates an arsenal of defenders to get rid of the gluten protein, creating inflammation and symptoms.
Should you be eating gluten-free? There are many signs of gluten intolerance. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, try eating gluten-free for 4 weeks to see if your symptoms abate.
7 SIGNS YOU MIGHT WANT TO GO GLUTEN-FREE
1. Digestive issues GI symptoms – such as canker sores, indigestion, heartburn, gas, bloating, burping, constipation, diarrhea or IBS – may signal a gluten intolerance.
2. Abnormal menstrual periods and/or fertility issues There is a strong relationship between gluten sensitivity and hormonal imbalance which can cause a range of reproductive system issues.
3. Frequent Headaches or Migraine Headaches Gluten consumption may trigger headache if you are gluten intolerant.
4. Fatigue Eating gluten can contribute to fatigue or even Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Intolerance to gluten may cause damage to the GI tract and lower absorption of necessary minerals such as iron causing anemia or fatigue.
5. Change in mood or emotions If you suffer from depression, anxiety, mood swings, brain fog or trouble concentrating, consider cutting wheat to improve these symptoms.
6. Neurological issues Dizziness, balance issues and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet may all be caused by gluten consumption.
7. Joint Pain Achy joints are another symptom of gluten intolerance. Pain in any joint from the neck to the toes can be a symptom of gluten intolerance.
Going For It? If you’re thinking of eliminating gluten, be sure to consult with your physician or naturopath. Also carefully check labels because the ingredient is not just found in wheat, barley and rye but can also hide as a thickener in soups, sauces, and salad dressings, as well as in cereals, crackers, spice mixes, artificial crab meat, many soya sauces, and a host of other products.
Get ready. Eating gluten-free will seem like a huge undertaking first, but depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may feel like a new woman just by making this switch. I know many people who have broken up with gluten and would never go back!