For decades, doctors and medical researchers mistakenly believed that the only way gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye and barley — could be a danger to you was if you had celiac disease.
In fact, if you had told your doctor that you felt bloated after eating a sandwich, experienced brain fog, diarrhea and headaches, but you tested negative for celiac, he’d have written you a prescription for antidepressants — their not-so-subtle way of telling you it’s all in your head.
But the truth is there are many people who react badly to even the smallest amount of gluten in their food and can experience a wide range of irritating symptoms…
I should know… I’m one of them.
If I eat anything that has wheat, rye or barley, has touched wheat, rye or barley, or even uses a tiny bit of gluten as a binder (like some prescription medications), I end up running for the bathroom.
That’s why I’ve come up with certain rules that I follow to avoid the bad stuff and keep myself on track, gluten-free and feeling good.
Unfortunately, because there’s so much misinformation about gluten out there, it can be hard to separate the truth from the myths. So, I’ve put together three of the most important gluten facts to help you sort it out…
#1 — Gluten only causes digestive problems
Yes, if you are gluten-sensitive and you eat the something that contains the protein, it’s likely that you could feel bloated, have stomach cramps or get mild to severe diarrhea.
But the truth is that gluten issues don’t stop at your gut. Gluten can affect your entire body in ways you’d never imagine, including rashes and brain problems.
Researchers have now connected the protein to a whopping 300 separate symptoms. Just a few of them include:
- Thyroid issues
- Autoimmune problems
- Alzheimer-like symptoms
So, be sure to pay attention to more than just your stomach when you’re trying to assess the impact of eating gluten on your health.
#2 — Avoid wheat and you’ll be fine
Going gluten-free isn’t for the faint of heart but it is worth it since even a week without the protein in your diet can help you feel much better if you’re sensitive to it.
However, it’s important to note that even if you eliminate the major gluten culprits of wheat, barley and rye, you’ll find it’s often lurking in foods you would never expect.
Foods to watch out for include:
- Beans packaged in a plant that also processes wheat products
- French fries from fast food restaurants
- Seasonings and spices
- Bouillon cubes
- Artificial coffee creamer
- Condiments like ketchup, mustard and salad dressing
- Cold cuts and hot dogs
- Cooking sprays
- Roasted nuts
And the list goes on…
This means that when you go gluten-free, it’s best to stick to freshly prepared foods like fish and grass-fed meats, veggies and fruits.
#3 — You can still eat bread on occasion
With all of that said, it’s also important to remember that once you go gluten-free, it’s something you need to stick to.
But a lot of people think it’s OK to avoid gluten Sunday through Friday and take Saturday off to have a slice of pizza and some cookies — kind of like a cheat day when you’re on the keto diet.
They would be wrong. Unlike cheating on the keto diet, you won’t just gain a pound or two. You’ll feel miserable and regret the momentary pleasure cheating on your gluten-free plan might bring.
So, once you go gluten-free it’s important to look at your new eating habits as a permanent way of life.
Luckily, despite the issues eating something with gluten can cause, if you do find yourself in a situation where you simply can’t remain gluten-free — or fear you may ingest gluten unknowingly — you’re not doomed.
Certain digestive enzymes can help you break down the gluten and ease the symptoms. Enzymes that work for people with gluten issues include:
- Glutalytic® — A powerful proteolytic enzyme that breaks down 10mg of gluten per capsule before it enters your digestive tract. The average 3-meal-a-day American diet contains 10-40 grams of gluten.
- Bromelain — A protein-digesting enzyme that helps to support digestive comfort after consumption of common food irritants like gluten. It’s also been shown to calm inflammation that can cause your stomach to cramp and ache.
- Papain — A protein-devouring enzyme, it helps digest gluten peptides to protect you from unwanted after-meal side effects like cramping, constipation, diarrhea, bloating and gas.
No one knows exactly how many people are affected by gluten sensitivities, but it’s estimated to effect up to 6 percent of the U.S. population (six times the number of people with full-blown celiac disease). If you’re one of them, keep the gluten facts above in mind to live your healthiest, most symptom-free life.