Gluten is the glue like substance that holds most baked goods together. It is a combination of proteins that is found in wheat and other grains including rye, barley, spelt, kamut and oats. Gluten is widely used in commercially available products from grocery stores and bakeries to make their products fluffy and stick together. But, most people are unaware that gluten can cause many issues in the body, and it should be avoided by anyone experiencing the symptoms listed next.
1. Mood Issues
Have you noticed that you often feel depressed or have issues with anger or anxiety? It is well known that these issues are closely related to the digestive issues that gluten can cause. There are a few ways that gluten can cause these issues, and some professionals have speculated that these issues affect the central nervous system. This happens because there is either change that occurs in the gut microbiota, an imbalance in serotonin levels, or in the formation of peptides called gluten exorphins.
2. Dark Circles Under the Eyes
There is a misunderstanding about the cause of the dark purplish circles, or “allergy shiners”, under the eyes as being purely an indication of being over tired. But actually, it could be caused by an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten. If you notice that you have dark circles under your eyes despite being well rested, removing gluten from your diet could be a big help!
3. Brain Fog
Have you noticed that you can’t seem to think straight, are having trouble remembering things, can’t seem to shake the feeling that you have when you first wake up, or misplace things easily. The protein in gluten can have an extremely negative effect on your brain, and cause damage to the areas of the brain that can cause brain fog and many other areas. Some damage is even bad enough to be seen by neurologists on MRI scans. People report a vast improvement in the function of their brains after removing gluten from their diets.
4. Migraines and Headaches
Migraines and headaches have become increasingly common in our stressed out society. But many people might be overlooking the real cause of their headache troubles. Gluten causes inflammation in the body, and this includes the brain. Many people find relief from headaches and migraines when they remove gluten from their diets.
5. Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia
If you feel tired all the time, or have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and have general pain all over your body like in those with Fibromyalgia you might want to take a look at your diet. Gluten could be a major factor in your suffering.
6. Painful Joints
As we know, gluten can cause inflammation in people who are intolerant to it. This inflammation can show up in our joints and cause painful swelling. This is often one of the first symptoms people notice when they are looking at gluten intolerance. If left unchecked, this inflammation can lead to other, more serious, health conditions like the ones listed above.
7. Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis Pilaris is a skin condition that is characterized by having raised red and itchy bumps on the backs of a person’s upper arms, thighs and even their rear end. These bumps form as a result of too much keratin, which is a protein, forming in the skin. Some people use creams or lotions to mitigate the annoying effects of keratosis pilaris, but they should try eliminating gluten from their diet. Issues occurring on the skin’s surface are often an excellent indicator of internal issues that need to be addressed.
8. Autoimmune Disorders
Autoimmune disorders are becoming increasingly common in people today. It seems like everywhere you go you hear about someone being diagnosed with one. But these disorders can often be made exponentially better by removing gluten. The body of a person with an autoimmune disease is confused and begins attacking its own tissues. Gluten can be mistaken for the body’s own tissue in these people, which causes extra inflammation to occur, on top of the inflammation that we know gluten can cause in someone who does not also have an autoimmune disease. All of this inflammation is very bad for your health.
9. Digestive Upset
Gluten can wreak havoc on a person’s digestive system by causing all kinds of symptoms such as bloating, gas and smelly gas, diarrhea, constipation and painful stomach cramping. In more severe cases, like in people with Celiac’s Disease, it can cause blood in the stool because the damage is so severe. Gluten damages the small villi, which are finger-like projections that come out of the colon wall, in the intestines and absorb the nutrients in the food we have eaten. This damage makes it hard for the people to properly digest not only the gluten in the meal they have just eat, but also the other food they have eaten too.
10. Nutrient Deficiencies
If you’ve had blood work done and you notice that you are deficient in a whole host of nutrients, it might be because you are intolerant to the gluten in your diet. As we know, gluten can damage the lining of the intestines and this can make it nearly impossible for the intestines to properly absorb nutrients. Some key nutrients that can be affected by this lack of absorption are calcium, iron, vitamin B12, as well as all of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. All of these nutrients are vital for excellent health!
Gluten is not something people should ingest without careful consideration for the negative effects it can have on their health. If you notice that you have any of the symptoms previously listed, try giving gluten a break for a while. Most people need to eliminate it for a period of six weeks before they can figure out whether or not it was causing an issue. Six weeks is such a short period of time when it comes to the health of your body and mind. Try giving gluten free eating a try! There are many substitute options available at your local grocery store to try. Being gluten free does not mean you have to make big sacrifices!
- Wheat Belly by William Davis MD
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch
- The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book by Shari Lieberman PhD