There are fads and trends, and then there are life-changing diets that actually help people improve their quality of life. While some people rush to jump on the gluten-free bandwagon for no clear reason, others genuinely take years to realize that they should remove this carb from their diet to restore their wellbeing.
To demystify the gluten-free approach, let’s delve a little deeper into why this diet is important, how you can determine if it’s a good match for you, and how you can benefit from it if you need to go gluten-free.
What Does it Mean to Go Gluten-Free?
Simply put, the gluten-free diet eliminates all foods that contain gluten, a carb naturally found in foods such as wheat, barley and rye. While it sounds restrictive, this diet still allows you a variety of fruits, veggies, meat, fish, eggs, as well as dairy and non-dairy wholefoods that are exceptionally healthy.
The hype around going gluten-free is not baseless, but only for people who actually need to eliminate this carb because they cannot metabolize it properly. Otherwise, you don’t necessarily have to eliminate gluten, but if you’re still experiencing symptoms of GI discomfort, perhaps your diet needs a revamp.
Who Is a Good Fit for This Diet?
If you fall into either of the following groups, there’s a good chance your doctor will recommend steering clear of gluten in your meals:
- If you have Celiac disease
- If you are prone to any kind of gluten allergy or sensitivity
For people whose microbiome has been damaged because of poor diet choices, such as too much processed foods, alcohol, or sugar, you might experience some of the same symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease.
Yet, removing gluten wouldn’t help, in which case you should consider our Microbiome Repair Workshop to help heal your gut and adjust your eating habits. If you do have Celiac disease and you’ve only recently discovered the issue, this workshop could also help restore your microbiome and get started with your new gluten-free lifestyle.
Red Flags to Be Mindful of
Even if your diet is focused on wholefoods and careful food preparation, you might still find yourself experiencing some of the following symptoms. That means that you might have gluten sensitivity, and the sooner you get tested, the easier it will be for you to eliminate any discomfort and adapt your eating habits:
- Frequent gas and stomach pain, as well as cramps
- Diarrhea and bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
The best way to determine if your symptoms are gluten-related would be to start a diet journal to connect the dots. If your discomfort is linked to meals that contain gluten, you should definitely contact your doctor and get started on a diet that will help protect your gut.
Be Careful with Labels
Finally, we need to remind you that “all that glitters isn’t gold”, or in this case, all that claims to be gluten-free isn’t necessarily good for you!
While it might help you get rid of those nasty symptoms, if you switch to highly processed foods just because they are gluten-free, you risk overwhelming your body with unhealthy ingredients that could harm you as much as gluten would. Think, sugar, sodium, preservatives, and all kinds of unhealthy fillers.
With that in mind, it’s vital to think your nutrition plan through, carefully. Eliminate gluten if you’re sensitive or have Celiac disease, but also stick to wholefoods and nutrient-dense foods that aren’t processed, or that are minimally processed.
As you can see, even in a clear-cut case when you need to eliminate gluten from your diet, it’s not so easy to transform your nutrition when you’re surrounded by processed foods that could potentially harm your wellbeing even though they don’t contain gluten.
We always invite you to schedule a consultation with a functional medicine expert, so that you know you’re taking a holistic approach and crafting your diet according to your specific needs.