I get asked about gluten on a frequent basis and whether it is really that important to cut it out of the diet. It is a tough one, isn’t it?
We are so dependent on gluten. It has become such a big part of our lives and our diets. We have toast for breakfast or a cereal of some sort. We might have a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner. It is hard to even imagine a life without gluten in it… right now anyways. My experience with gluten was a long, drawn out decision because I really loved my bread and all the things that are made with gluten: cookies, cakes and of course those muffins!
The thing is that I noticed that I would instantly feel worse when I ate gluten and though it took me a few months to finally decide to permanently cut gluten out of my life, I can promise you that it has made a world of difference to my health, my bloating and particularly my Endometriosis.
Here is some background on why it is a good idea to cut gluten out of your life permanently:
1. The wheat crop is not the same
When man first invented flour and its use in making breads, pasta and all those pastries, it was a different plant. The wheat plant has been adapted over time to be easier to harvest and it also contains a higher amount of gluten than the original grain. This means that our bodies are having to adapt to a higher load of gluten (the protein found in wheat grains) which is hard for our digestive system to break down.
It becomes like a sticky glue in our gut, which can damage the gut lining, and cause unnecessary bloating and constipation.
2. It is sprayed with something at some point
Whenever a grain or product is mass produced, you can be assured that at some point systems have been put in place to reduce labor and time costs. Wheat is one of the most highly produced crops and inevitably that means that chemicals are likely used to encourage growth, reduce pests or somehow make the process easier. In the USA, Roundup is used to pre-harvest wheat. Roundup is the chemical that has dioxin in it. Remember this is the one that has been shown to actually cause Endometriosis growth in monkeys.
Here is a detailed article by the Health Economist explaining the practice of using Roundup.
Even though this practice might not be used in Europe or other parts of the world, there are likely other fungicides or pesticides that are being sprayed on wheat crops. Whenever we have a mass produced crop, we can assume that to be the case.
What is in our bread will likely land up in our tummies and ultimately affect our health.
3. Gluten = Glue
The purpose of gluten is to provide a type of glue for breads and pastries. This is after all what makes it all stick together and hold itself up, hence why making gluten free bread is so challenging.
Unfortunately, it is this “glue-like” action which also makes it hard on our digestive system. Imagine consuming a type of cement and expecting our digestive system to move that out? It is sticky, it is solid and it is really hard to break down. When we eat gluten, it requires our digestive system to move this stuff through and it actually damages our gut lining along the way.
Our digestive system is lined with tiny, fine hair-like follicles called cilia. These cilia are designed to pick up broken down nutrients from our food. Gluten and its stickiness has been shown to damage those fine hairs and therefore make it hard to absorb our nutrients.
It also explains why many people land up with Leaky Gut Syndrome.
4. Gluten inhibits mineral absorption
Because of its effect on the gut lining, gluten could be the reason why we are not getting all the nutrients we so desperately need for our bodies. One of the most common ones, which is often not absorbed because of gluten, is iron. Iron is really important to help our bodies transport oxygen around the body through our blood. Now, if we are not getting enough iron, it will make us feel tired and lethargic.
With Endometriosis, it is quite common to already have low iron levels as many women tend to have heavy bleeds during their monthly.
Do we really want to limit the iron levels in our bodies any further?
Side note: eating molasses can really help improve iron levels in the body. It also has many other benefits: The Benefits of Molasses.
5. There are more nutritious alternatives
One of the things we perhaps don’t consider or recognize when we opt to cut out gluten from our diet is the immediate, kinda ironic side effect of doing that. When we cut out gluten, we naturally have to find something else to eat. Many of the grains that are gluten free are actually healthier for us than the typical cereals. Quinoa and buckwheat are both fantastic alternatives to gluten and contain far more nutritional benefits than their gluten alternatives.
We are also more likely to replace a typical “bready” lunch with a salad and a pasta dish with fresh potatoes and vegetables for dinner. It almost inherently means more nutritional elements land up in our bodies!
If you need some ideas on what to eat to replace gluten, check out my Eat Endo Happy Recipe Book. It contains 101 recipes and includes some great alternatives to gluten with a strong focus on truly nourishing your body.
Gluten does affect your experience with Endometriosis and my first recommendation is always to cut out gluten from the diet. You will instantly notice that your body experiences less bloating, less digestive issues and you will have far more energy.
What has your experience been like? Have you cut out gluten and noticed a difference? Do you find it hard to cut out gluten? Did this article help you make the decision to cut it out?