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Our whole lives we had this message drummed into us. “Eat more whole grains and cereals” or “choose multi-grain bread or pasta as it’s better for you”. Remember the trusty old food pyramid? The bottom half of the pyramid was where you were supposed to make the majority of your nutritional food choices. Multi-grain bread, pasta and cereals were right down there alongside meat, fruit and vegetables. I would eat some form of bread, pasta or wheat based breakfast cereal with every meal.
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Traces of gluten can also be found in oats. Wheat also plays a role as an adhesive in glue, paint, paper mache’ and was also used as a form of plaster in ancient times. Gluten literally means glue in Latin.
As many as 1 in 133 people in western countries have some form of gluten intolerance or allergy. Signs of gluten allergy or intolerance include nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain or fatigue. Gluten has also been shown to be pro-inflammatory which can also worsen any other condition that is caused by inflammation in your body.
People with celiac disease are intolerant to gluten which causes damage to the small intestine which effects nutrient absorption.
Common foods that contain gluten are bread, pasta, pizza dough, pastry and biscuits. Gluten can also be found in processed meats, soups, sauces and some low-fat products. Foods containing gluten are usually energy dense and cause high insulin and blood sugar spikes which can lead to fat storage.
Medical research has uncovered a possible link between gluten intolerance, celiac disease and schizophrenia which dates back as far as the early 1950’s.
According to Dr Mercola’s article titled Is Gluten Making You Fat, populations of countries who historically don’t eat gluten have been shown to have low amounts of schizophrenia (2 cases in 65,000). This is compared to close to 1 in 100 cases of schizophrenia in countries that traditionally consume gluten. Medical research also exists which demonstrates when gluten is removed from the diet of a patient suffering from schizophrenia, their symptoms improve.
An article written by Sayer Ji titled The Dark Side of Wheat notes that human biology has not had enough time to adapt to the consumption of grains. The article notes studies demonstrating how wheat consumption can result in intestinal damage in subjects with or without celiac disease.
World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic has been very public of late claiming his recent success to have been a result of making changes to his diet and eliminating food sources containing gluten. Djokovic has noted a drop in weight, increase in energy and eliminating bloating since making these changes to his diet.
Elite level cyclists Christian Van de Velde and Tom Danielson noted improved performance, better digestion healthier sleeping habits since going gluten-free.
Gluten free options are not always good for you. Go into any supermarket and you’ll see an array of cakes, breads and baked goods that are gluten free however still contain highly process carbohydrates and high levels of sugar.
There are obvious health benefits to be gained from eliminating gluten from your diet. Removing gluten containing products will obviously remove processed foods such as bread, pasta, pizza dough, cakes, biscuits and pastry from your diet.
These foods all contribute to high blood sugar and insulin spikes which can then lead to fat storage. These foods are also very energy dense, easy to over consume and are rapidly digested by the body. If you are about to start a weight loss program, I’d recommend by starting to eliminate these foods and replacing them with other whole food choices.
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