When I first heard about the gluten-free diet I did not understand why in the world anyone would want to remove gluten from their diet. Besides, wasn’t wheat and whole grain bread good for everyone to eat?
The Truth Revealed
After discovering that my young son was experiencing extreme joint pain from wheat, corn, eggs, dairy, sugar, and red food coloring, I knew our whole family menu had to change for his sake. When he exclaimed that he could even think better when all of these food items were removed from his diet I knew that I was on to something. Then, I discovered the #1 New Times bestselling book called Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, MD. Written on the cover is the phrase, “The surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers” (Perlmutter). The essence of this book revealed to us what was causing countless nights of sleeplessness due to stomach aches, constipation, headaches, earaches, and runny noses. Needless to say, we are not off of all of the food items mentioned above, but certainly, have put a limit on them.
The Problem With Addiction
Another question I had to ask myself was, “Why in the world are we continuously having trouble avoiding and resisting the temptation to eat these carbohydrates that we were told not to eat?” That question was answered by yet another doctor who stated that because carbohydrates turn into sugar in our bodies and sugar is highly addictive it is difficult to resist the temptation to eat it. In fact, sugar is more addictive than cocaine. So, if you are having as much trouble as we do not eating sugar or carbohydrates please forgive yourselves as we have, and just do the best you can while striving for progress rather than perfection.
The Difference Between Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities
Another question is, “How are joint pain and some brain disorders caused by ingesting carbohydrates and sugar and not enough healthy fats?” First, I had to understand the difference between a food sensitivity and food allergies. The answer lies in the body’s response to the ingestion of the food. If you are allergic to a food you may have the following symptoms: hives, swelling, itching, anaphylaxis, and dizziness. If you are sensitive to a certain type of food you may have the following symptoms: gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and nausea.
Food allergies can be fatal, but food sensitivity usually only causes digestive distress. During digestive distress, food is not digested properly because the body does not have the enzymes to digest the food. This causes a reaction by the immune system which may also show it’s an ugly face in the form of pain in the joints, as my 11-year-old son had from one or more of the foods he was sensitive to, or may only be revealed as that of a runny nose. Since I have lessened my ingestion of gluten, wheat, and sugar I no longer have cold-like symptoms from what I had always thought were air-born allergies.
Gluten’s Affect on the Brain
Since watching members of my family wither away from dementia I had to understand this last and final question, “How does gluten affect the brain?” I found that just as the digestive system can be damaged by food sensitivities or food allergies so can the brain through sensitivity to gluten or other foods that vary depending on the individual. For example, one individual may be sensitive to gluten; whereas, another person may not. What foods may cause health issues for one individual may not for another.
When inflammation does occur in the brain, it can be damaging. It can be triggered by the immune system when the body reacts to food sensitivities. Damaging chemicals known as cytokines are released when the antibodies of the immune system come into contact with a protein or antigen with which a person is allergic. These cytokine chemicals collect and can attack the brain. They damage tissue in the brain and leave it vulnerable to disease. “That gluten sensitivity is regarded as principally a disease of the small bowel is a historical misconception.” (Perlmutter)
How To Know If You Are Sensitive to Gluten
Some of the signs of gluten sensitivity are the following:
- bone pain/osteopenia/osteoporosis
- dairy intolerance
- delayed growth
- digestive disturbances
- etc. See the book, Grain Brain, page 67 for a full list.
There are many tests that can be done by doctors to see if you are sensitive to gluten.
So, what foods actually are gluten free? The following is a list of a few of the foods that are considered gluten-free.
- Most raw fruits and vegetables
- Brown Rice
- White Rice
- Most Butter
- Most Oil, except for those with added flavoring
- Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts)
- Nuts and Seeds
- Raw Red Meat
- Raw Poultry
- Raw Seafood
This list is not all-inclusive but can be used as a good starting template as to what foods can be considered gluten-free in their raw form.
What Should You Do Today If You Think You May Be Sensitive to Gluten?
- Order the book Grain Brain
- Check with your doctor to see he or she can order a test for food allergies or sensitivities for you.
- Start taking supplements such as alpha-lipoic acid, coconut oil, DHA, probiotics, resveratrol, turmeric, and vitamin D3.
- Research all the sources of gluten in your kitchen and get rid of them.
- Start a diet high in healthy fats, full of fruits and vegetables that are low in sugar (even fruits high in sugar can be harmful), and food high in protein.
- Read my articles on the Keto Diet and my next article that provides details on how to change your lifestyle for a healthier body and brain.