Saturday, August 8, 2015

The gluten post

Lauren and Aja are both ready for the next rep.
Lately we've been fielding some questions about gluten-free diets. Mike and I have both been gluten-free (and grain-free) for the last 6 years. We are raising our children on a Paleo diet. We are passionate advocates of a whole-foods, Paleo approach to eating. That doesn't mean we are trying to re-enact the Stone Age. It just means that we use evolutionary biology as a starting point in deciding which foods to eat. Of all the changes we made to our diet, the biggest one by far was eliminating gluten.

If you're sure that you'll never give up gluten, you can stop reading here. We're not here to argue with you. We're simply here to provide our perspective to anyone who is seeking advice on nutrition.

Gluten from wheat and other grains is problematic for many reasons. Whole books have been written about this, so we won't reproduce a review of the literature here. Good references include Wheat Belly by William Davis, Grain Brain by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg, Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas, and Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution provides a great introduction.

While celiac is the only officially recognized diagnosis of gluten problems, non-celiac gluten intolerance is gaining traction and there are many thousands of anecdotes of health improvements and disease reversal tied to removing gluten. Having the digestive symptoms of traditional celiac disease is only one manifestation of gluten intolerance; gluten has been linked to multiple schlerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, IBS, Type I diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, thyroid issues, gall bladder issues, many types of cancer (particularly the epithelial cell cancers), and more. My personal experience is that when I removed gluten, I had reversal of digestive issues and joint pain and inflammation, both of which had persisted since adolescence. I also lost weight and had clearer skin and better sleep. For Mike, staying gluten-free is an important part of staying in remission from cancer.

It can be difficult to see the damage that gluten may be doing without completely eliminating it from your diet for a trial period. You may think you're fine, but it is often the case that we've just gotten used to our aches and pains and health problems. A few days without gluten is not enough to really test things, and just "cutting back" won't get you answers either, as minimal exposures can still trigger the responses in your body. If you want to see what effects gluten really has on you, we recommend you do a minimum 30-day trial elimination. Be very strict - read every label and ask questions at restaurants - because gluten is in more than just bread and pasta.

While there are gluten-free substitutes available for just about every food, try not to simply replace all your favorites with gluten-free versions. Other grains are cross-reactive (meaning people sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to other grains), so it's better to remove the gluten-containing foods and just focus naturally gluten-free foods, such as meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Gluten-free substitutes are not taboo, but they should be viewed more as treats than staples.

If you're interested in learning more, check out the books above and come talk to us. Our goal is for everyone to reach their full potential health-wise. Because we both had such positive results eliminating gluten from our diets, and we know so many more who have had the same experience, we are very happy to help you.