Gluten: Cure or Fad?


The gluten free diet seems to have become the fad diet of the year (or possibly decade).  I’ll admit, it’s a tough cookie to swallow.  But let’s look beyond the fad and find out why foods that contain gluten may not be the best for your body.

What is gluten anyway?  Gluten is the protein portion of some whole grains.  The main whole grain is wheat, but rye, barley, couscous, spelt, and kamut also contain gluten.  Gluten is actually composed of gliadin and glutenin protein and it’s the gliadin that seems to cause the most problems.

So what does gliadin do?  It causes a leaky gut.  The scientific term is “increased intestinal permeability”.  This is when the cells of the digestive tract separate, allowing undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria to get through to our blood and tissues.  These items are not meant to enter our blood and tissues.

So what happens next?

Undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria that get to the bloodstream can cause our immune system to be stimulated, as a large part of our immune system is contained in the gut.

The result can be food allergies and other symptoms of inflammation.  This includes anxiety and depression, skin rashes, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, joint pains, migraines/headaches, seasonal allergies, and autoimmune diseases. 

In fact, there is a very high correlation between a leaky gut and most autoimmune diseases.

So why has this become such a problem these days when we have been eating wheat for hundreds of years?  The answer to that question may be that wheat has been hybridized in the past 25-50 years to contain much more gluten than it’s former self.  This was done to produce better yields and higher pest resistance.  However, it seems to be causing more of a problem with our health.

Of course, some people are more susceptible to getting a leaky gut with gluten ingestion.  It’s actually dependent on your genes.  That being said, if you have a chronic health problem that isn’t resolving and you haven’t eliminated gluten, I urge you to try it out for 3 weeks.    Your health could depend on it!