Experiment for yourself, whether the big G word – Gluten is your friend or foe!
Dr. Peter Osborne gluten-sensitivity expert acknowledges that there are 140 autoimmune diseases that are scientifically linked to a gluten sensitivity. Other triggers that contribute to autoimmune disorders are poor immune function and vitamin deficiencies. For the most part, gluten appears to be the heart of the problem.
“But gluten tends to be kind of that central core hub that’s always present.” ~Dr. Peter Osborne.
Despite sufficient time for results of autoimmune disease research and case-studies to really prove what is 100% true and false, it is important to be aware that most autoimmune sufferers have some form of leaky gut. The main cause of leaky gut is being sensitive to gluten.
The best way to describe leaky gut (also known as intestinal hyper-permeability), is to think about your small and large intestines. One of the major task of your intestines, is to form a strong defensive barrier to prevent absorption of damaging substances to pass through. This barrier must be tight, in order to control what is allowed into the bloodstream. Technically there is a single layer of cells in your intestines that open and close to allow only specific, very small molecules to pass.
Now, there are various experts debating the true size of our intestines. The range varies from half a badminton court, to an entire football field. When it comes to making permanent dietary changes, what works for me, is to visualise the actual significance of what we are talking about. In this instance, the worst-case scenario is half a badminton court, which is rather on the large size!
When this intestinal wall becomes unhealthy, it develops large cracks or holes, allowing partially digested food, toxins and other pathogens that perforate the tissues beneath it. This can trigger inflammation and manifest changes in your gut, that can lead to problems within the digestive tract and beyond.
How does gluten cause leaky gut?
- Gluten can interfere, by opening up the tight barrier in your intestines. There is less control of what should go in and out of the blood.
- It can also activate immune cells, disrupting the body’s innate ability in determining the good versus the bad.
Whilst there are tests to check for an allergy or intolerance to gluten (IgE, IgA, IgC, IgM), there are no current mechanisms to check whether gluten is impacting your innate immune cells, nor interacting with this tight barrier and your intestinal cells, also known as enterocytes.
The only reliable way to truly diagnose gluten sensitivity is to stop eating gluten and see if it makes a difference.
Common signs of a gluten intolerance:
-protruding belly (just getting that one out the way first)!
-dry and flaky skin
-fluctuation of moods / PMS
-energy slumps throughout the day
-lack of concentration
-loss of memory
If you would like to decrease any of the symptoms mentioned above, give your body a break from gluten. Go for a period of 60-90 days to truly understand if your body does better without gluten.
Start slow, change takes time to implement! Tackle one meal at a time without gluten and then move onto the next.
The 2 x biggest game-changers
1) Plan your meals in advance
Implementing and adhering to any dietary change, takes some planning. Heck, any lifestyle change takes some preparation right? Don’t fall in the trap that you can wing it. You can’t! Quite often, we start with good intentions and can only last 2-3 days, before we find ourselves caving in due to hunger, simply by not having the right foods within reach.
If your schedule is busy, have some foods that are ready to grab at your convenience! This is a much better option, than settling for foods that contain gluten and rob your body of nutrients such as sugar and chemicals that are usually readily available.
2) Batch cooking
You know what I’m talking about. This one took me a while to embrace! I loved the idea of spontaneity, experimentation and tuning into what my body needs on that particular day. If you are surrounded by food shops that have plenty of healthy options, combined with a well stocked fridge, then you might be able to skimp on batch cooking. Rest assured, with time, you will slowly start to understand what foods your body thrives on, and what doesn’t.
Cook once, eat anywhere from 2 to 5 times is a great way to always have nutritious and balanced meals! Carving out time in your busy week, to cook something in bulk can seem daunting. Start with a simple meal like a stew, steamed vegetables or soup which lasts well in the fridge and freezer. Also when you cook and buy in bulk, you save on cost and time. The trips for food shopping become less, and within minutes you have a nutrient dense meal!
This post doesn’t mean gluten is the enemy for everyone, it just means that by identifying if gluten is a stressor for you or not, could prevent you from being exposed to unnecessary autoimmune disorders for the long-term.
Common questions may surface on what does this really mean? What to eat! There’s nothing left! Drop me a line, and I would be more than happy to steer you in the right direction. Trust me there is a whole plethora of choices, it can just be hard to know where to start!
Don’t wait for a diagnosis, prevention is better than a cure!
Source: Dr S. Ballentyne PhD, AIP, Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. Nutritional Therapy Association.