I mentioned last week that when I went gluten and dairy-free to address my Crohn’s symptoms, it was difficult to find food substitutes. Nowadays, many grocery stores offer extensive options for people who have food sensitivities or allergies. Despite the ease with which many of us are able to locate foods that meet our nutritional and gut-health needs, some people are still skeptical.
Have you heard any of these?
Why is everyone going gluten-free these days?
When I was your age, we just ate regular bread and we were fine.
Organic food is just another way for business to make money.
Gluten-free is just another fad.
What Is Gluten Anyway and Why Is It Suddenly A Problem?
From genetically modified foods to herbicides and pesticides, high fructose corn syrup to gluten and nutrient depleted soils, our foods have changed a great deal in the last fifty years. There are many concerns to consider with our modern diets, but today I want to talk about gluten.
A Mayo Clinic study found that gluten intolerance is four times more likely to occur in a person today than in 1950. And gluten is in SO MUCH of what we consume and use—it’s not just in bread! From chewing gum to lipstick, we are exposed to this substance far more than Americans in previous generations so it makes sense that we would see an uptick in gluten sensitivities.
But what is it? “Gluten” is a mixture of two proteins that are found in barley, wheat and rye. Gluten is necessary for these grains to survive and it’s responsible for the elastic texture of dough and for helping bind it together.
Gluten is a common inflammation-causing substance that can be hard to avoid. It can damage the tight junctions of the gut, resulting in what’s referred to as “leaky gut”. This is when certain particles that should stay in the digestive tract leak out through the damaged gut lining, triggering an immune system response. There is even evidence that leaky gut is a pre-cursor to autoimmune disease.
Not everyone will feel the effects of consuming gluten. Some are more sensitive to it than others and the symptoms that are experienced with gluten sensitivity are not the same in everyone.
Who Should Go Gluten Free?
There are a variety of reasons people choose to go gluten-free. For some, it’s because of a celiac disease diagnosis. For others, it’s because of Crohn’s or Colitis. Others have gone gluten free to treat symptoms associated with autism, ADHD, migraines and joint pain. Many people who haven’t received a diagnosis just know that they feel objectively better without it. They report more energy and clearer thinking.
So I Should Get Rid Of It, Right?
Not so fast! If you’ve faced chronic digestive problems, it’s important to gather all the information you can about your symptoms so that you can choose a path to gut-healing that is right for you and your situation. Before you wave goodbye to any type of food, you should consider the benefits of a Food Inflammation Test (FIT) and subsequent elimination diet.
I know it sounds severe, but it’s not so scary. A FIT test is a simple blood test you can do from home that identifies foods that cause inflammation in your body, ranked by the severity of the inflammatory response. An elimination diet is simple removes the most inflammatory “problem” foods for a period of three to six months, then reintroduces them to observe how your body responds. This test is backed by science and you might be surprised by what you find!
What Do I Have To Give Up?
Always remember—you don’t HAVE to give up anything. Instead, view the process as a CHOICE. You are CHOOSING a healthier life. You are taking control of your gut health journey and you should be empowered by that choice.
Elimination diets can vary but some common food triggers are dairy, gluten, soy, nuts, nightshade vegetables and seafood. The FIT test takes the guess-work out of which foods are causing your symptoms.
Where Do I Sign Up?
If you are tired of dealing with digestive symptoms that are preventing you from living your best life, please reach out to me. I would love to talk with you and see if what I do would help you.
Schedule a free 20-minute telehealth consultation where we can talk about where you’ve been and where you want to be.
We can discuss the options that many of my clients have found success with, including testing and an elimination diet made for YOU.
Dr. Troy Willis
The Unfortunate Expert