WHAT IS GLUTEN???
What a common word thats being used these last couple of years! Since diving deep into better gut health I started attending Sheridan Austin's Gut Healing workshops and my mind was BLOWN AWAY! I had no idea that the gut held so much value for basically every part of your body so once attending Sheridan's Workshops and absorbing every possible bit of information she would share with me I just knew Sheridan had to be apart of my new blog and I hope you all feel as inspired and educated as I do each and every time I get to chat to her or read her posts on her business account @Sheridanjoyaustin
So what is Gluten??? Below Sheridan explains.
I get it; it seems ludicrous that nearly every person around you feels they are reacting to gluten. Or, you may know deep down that you feel like a bloated balloon, are foggy brained or seriously fatigued after eating it but you still can’t resist it. So everyone is talking about it, but does anyone actually know what it is? Gluten is a family of proteins, two of the main ones being glutenin and gliadin, which form the sticky, dough like consistency that bread has before being cooked. These proteins are what individuals are reacting to. You may think, ‘but we have been eating it for thousands of years, how could it be a problem now?!’. This is true, though unfortunately in the 1970’s the wheat grain was chemically hybridised into a brand new species of wheat known as Triticum aestivum which was not tested on human consumption, though continued to spread rapidly throughout the world due to how quickly it grew and how easy it was to harvest. Since this new hybridisation, gluten intolerance has risen dramatically.
Standard practise today is to advocate that gluten is only a problem for those with celiac disease. Whilst coeliac disease has risen dramatically since the creation of this new wheat grain through hybridisation, science has proven countless times that gluten intolerance goes far beyond just celiac disease and can be a cause of many other symptoms and diseases. This is known as ‘non-celiac gluten sensitivity’.
What is it doing to our body?
We know now that it is linked to an array of symptoms including headaches, migraines, skin problems, digestive problems, joint pain, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, hair loss, consistent nutrient deficiencies, weight problems and much more serious issues such as an array of autoimmune diseases including thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and a myriad of other autoimmune diseases directly associated with gluten. Whilst there are many varying causes to ones health problems and gluten is not the only contributor, one reason gluten has been so strongly associated with these is predominantly due to the gliadin in gluten and its ability to directly cause leaky gut (where your intestinal wall becomes ‘leaky’). Leaky gut leads to high levels of inflammation, which is where our symptoms or diagnosis is stemming from. There are many elements that cause inflammation, though gluten has been shown to be a large contributor to this and must be considered.
A study has found that 65.6% of patients with irritable bowel disease who underwent a strict gluten free diet reported overall improvement in symptoms, and 38.8% reported less flare ups and less fatigue. Another example is infertility, which is now a growing epidemic. One study in particularly showed that there is an increased level of undiagnosed celiac disease in women with unexplained infertility, and suggests that women suffering this should be screened to treat the infertility as the patients conceived after 1 year of gluten elimination.
The problem is, gluten is addictive
Compounds within gluten have been proven to have an opioid effect, so much so that it can even mask your symptoms! Basically, gluten can have a morphine-like effect, so you can get addicted to it very easily due to compounds known as gluten exorphins or gluteomorphine.
Top five tips to prepare gluten free meals:
- If you’re going to avoid it, avoid it ALL! A little exposure to gluten can have huge repercussions for those who are sensitive in any way. Gluten containing grains to avoid include wheat, rye, oats, spelt and barley. You must check ingredients of ALL products you are using and always ask for gluten free when you’re out. Gluten can be hidden in the most unexpected foods, including soy sauce, spice mixes, granolas, mueslis, and if you’re eating out, they often coat foods in flour or have it hidden in the sauces. Regardless, request gluten free even if it seems like it looks it.
- You must always have delicious alternatives. Some people can easily switch the bread, wrap or bun with more greens and vegetables and a little extra protein and be fine, others cannot go without having the contents of the meal hidden in something. I love my 4 Ingredient Wraps and Hallelujah Loaf, and I created them because clients and myself were looking for alternatives. These are both completely carbohydrate free for those that need that. Other alternatives you need to consider having available to you or your loved ones include pancakes, muffins, slices and cakes. There is NO reason to feel deprived when you are on a gluten free diet. Use flours such as coconut flour, sunflower meal, hazelnut meal, almond meal and the like to create the alternatives. Though follow a recipe if you are learning, as you don’t want to waste precious ingredients!
- Have condiments handy! Condiments are a must have in my fridge. Mine are homemade so I know what is in them, and I rotate them depending on what I feel like. My favourites are cashew cheese, pesto, aioli and mayonnaise. Other condiments include cultured vegetables like homemade sauerkraut, kimchi and any other vegetables I feel like fermenting. It makes a meal exciting quickly and easily!
- Eat gluten free, but don’t eat gluten free. Confusing? I mean to ensure you don’t be conned into resorting to ‘gluten free packaged foods’ that are riddled with additives to make them seem like the real deal. Always check the ingredients and ensure your alternative contains real food and real food only. Many contain fillers like maltodextrin, gums, preservatives, genetically modified corn or soy and more.
- Increase your good fats! Good fats are essential to keep you satisfied and avoiding the carbohydrate cravings. This includes fats like ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, the fat off meats and so on.
If you’re going to eat it anyway…
Traditionally, gluten-containing foods were only ever consumed once the grains had been soaked and/or fermented before consumption. An example of this is sourdough bread. It is best to source the most traditional wheat grain that hasn’t been chemically hybridised in any form. Examples of this include Emmer wheat and Einkorn wheat, which are the most traditional wheat grains known. Once you turn these into a sourdough, you may tolerate this really well! If you do not want to go to the effort of sourcing the grains, then always go for organic long fermented sourdoughs, and although it is still likely to cause a level of inflammation, it is much more tolerated.
I suggest to clients to eliminate it for three months to witness the true results of its elimination, and then if by that stage you’re game to retest it, you’re bound to see the reaction if there is an existing intolerance.
I really hope this entices you to know how good you might be able to feel!
Nutritionist and GAPS Practitioner