To Be Or Not Be… Gluten Free!

Have you joined the recent gluten-free train by avoiding all foods with gluten? Consumers are finding this “fad diet” to be quite expensive, while food industries are reaping the benefits. What if it’s all a sham?

Apart from celiac disease where one must eliminate gluten due to an allergy, many research studies have also found that eliminating gluten from one’s diet helps decrease symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease. Multiple sources also claim that eliminating gluten leads to weight loss. Whether it’s the elimination of gluten that is causing these effects or the unhealthy additives found in regular gluten filled products, requires some “food for thought.”

A recent article based on a study conducted by Peter Gibson of Monash University, suggests that the gluten-free idea is all in our heads. His 2011 study indicated that eliminating gluten from the diet did decrease stomach pain, bloating and fatigue. In a follow-up study, Gibson examined dietary irritants which could alter his initial study. He recorded the effect of high gluten, low gluten and placebo foods for one week each and found that all studies resulted in increased symptoms of gas, bloating and pain.

I am not a researcher, or scientist, but I do a lot of independent research on nutritional health and I have discussed with many people their personal story with digestive issues and links to food. I was pleased to see that Gibson decided to retest his original theory by examining the gluten-free theory closer; however, my concern with his study is that the trial cases were conducted for only one week for each idea. Through many teaching moments with clients and professionals and my own personal trials, I believe it takes at least 2 weeks to eliminate foods such as gluten from our bodies. Furthermore, during the elimination process, our bodies will often experience an increase in original symptoms, which would indicate a reason for the increase in pain, bloating and gas found in Gibson’s study.

Other researchers indicate that it is beneficial to be gluten-free with an added twist. Dr. William Davis who wrote “Wheat Belly” studied not only gluten-free products but all grains. Davis states that all grains affect our insulin levels which creates stress and inflammation in our bodies. Dr. Terry Wahls agrees that not only gluten-free but grain-free diets should be conducted to see best results in digestive symptoms. Dr. Wahls also claims she has reversed the symptoms of her own multiple sclerosis by eliminating grains, as well as sugar and dairy.

So, what is the answer, gluten-free or not? I strongly suggest anyone with digestive issues to seek guidance from a naturopathic professional. They can assist in testing for allergies and/or sensitivities to certain foods. Otherwise, the obvious would be to eat as clean as possible, with real foods and no processed and genetically modified (GMO) foods. If you find eliminating gluten or grains helps, then continue with that. We are all unique people with unique bodies and if eliminating (or consuming) gluten makes you feel good, that‘s what truly matters, regardless of the latest diet craze.

I recently stumbled across this hilarious skit from Jimmy Kimmel, it helps me remember, always do your research so you can be informed with the decisions you make, especially when it has to do with what you put into your own body.

Michelle Wolfe, RMT

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