Is Going Gluten Free a Good Idea?

There are some sceptics that consider gluten free diets a trendy and self-indulgent fad. However, despite the immense challenge of going gluten free, it seems like more and more people are willing to try life without gluten because they feel better for it.

What is gluten anyway?

Gluten is the protein in (wheat, barley and rye) flour that creates elasticity and gives bread its wonderful texture. The lack of elasticity in gluten free grains is why gluten free breads are a poor imitation of the real thing! Medically speaking, an allergy to gluten is known as coeliac disease a condition whereby gluten triggers an immune reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine and typically causes bloating, wind, fatigue, diarrhoea as well as inhibiting your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.  A diagnosis of coeliac disease requires a small intestine biopsy. In some people’s minds, if you’re not coeliac then it’s all in your head. However, we now know there certainly are non-coeliacs who don’t tolerate gluten.

So you feel better not eating gluten?

If you have some symptoms which overlap with coeliac disease such as bloating, wind, pain and fatigue then you may have gluten sensitivity. What’s interesting is that symptoms of gluten sensitivity can be very broad, you could experience just one symptom like anxiety or you could also suffer from depression, brain fog, low immunity, unexplained weight loss or weight gain, migraines, joint and muscle aches and exhaustion. The good news is, if you suspect you are sensitive to gluten, you can make dietary changes that vastly improve your wellbeing.

Gluten and Autoimmune Disease

Whilst further weight of evidence will be required before it becomes standard medical practice to prescribe a gluten-free diet for all autoimmune disease, that time is surely approaching. When reading the latest research it’s hard not to be persuaded that gluten is one of the primary drivers of inflammation in the body. Why not simply remove a dietary trigger of inflammation to help manage your symptoms?

What to do next?

If you suspect you have sensitivity to gluten it is worth exploring the options with a trusted health professional. A holistic GP or a naturopath would be my first two choices.

You might be tempted to go it alone and start trialling a gluten free diet. If your symptoms lessen, it is a good reason to suspect you have a gluten sensitivity however it would be wise to seek advice on how to avoid gluten whilst maintaining a nutrient-rich diet and restoring optimal gut health to generate ongoing wellbeing.

Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression

Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.

Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

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