Even though the gluten-free diet has become more popular in the past few years, the diet is not a passing fad.
Research has proven that the health benefits of a gluten-free diet are significant, not only for people with gluten sensitivity but for everyone.
For the past 15 years or so, as a health and nutrition educator, I have consistently witnessed people experience significant health benefits from eliminating gluten from their diet.
As you may know, gluten is a general name for the proteins found mainly in wheat, rye, and barley.
Gluten helps food maintain their shape and is found in many different foods, including foods that you would not expect. Thus, it is important to always look for "gluten-free" on the label.
Four of the key reasons to consider a gluten-free diet include the following.
For many years, researchers have known that the underlying cause of all disease conditions is inflammation. Chronic inflammation may cause irritable bowels, joint pain, muscle pain or cramping, skin rashes, and various diseases, including cancer.
Gluten causes an excess production of cytokines, an inflammatory molecule. Almost anyone experiencing any condition associated with inflammation will benefit from eliminating gluten from one’s diet.
David Perlmutter, MD, a renowned functional-medicine neurologist and author of Grain Brain, states that is has become clear to him and his colleagues that gluten and a high-carbohydrate diet are the most prominent instigators of inflammation in the brain.
According to a 2012 Mayo Clinic report, which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, people who ate a high-fat, low-carb diet has a 44 percent reduced risk of dementia. In addition, those who ate the highest amount of carbs in their diet increased their risk of dementia by 89 percent!
Eliminating gluten will usually help with almost any digestive problems. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, eliminating gluten reduces gas and bloating, diarrhea, stomach discomfort, and abdominal cramps.
However, gluten does not just affect people diagnosed with Celiac disease. As many as 18 million American have gluten sensitivity but do not test positive for wheat allergy or Celiac. Since gluten compromises the gut environment, it also affects overall immunity and nutrient absorption.
One of the secondary benefits of a gluten-free diet is that it naturally helps to lose unwanted weight. For years, I have recommended a low-carb, healthy fat diet to my clients with consistent success.
This means eating an abundance of vegetables, moderate healthy fats (such as olive and coconut oil, nuts and nut butters, avocados, and salmon), and moderate amount of high-quality protein (either plant-based, wild fish, and/or grass-fed animal protein). The only grains I recommend are small amounts of gluten-free, high fiber grains.
For a simple overview of a basic gluten-free diet and delicious gluten-free recipes, see resources below.