Leaky gut part 2 - The problem with gluten

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, spelt, kamut and rye.  Some people have coeliac disease, a gluten allergy but also there are many people who have a gluten sensitivity rather than an allergy.  Gluten sensitivity may cause symptoms that resemble those of irritable bowel syndrome such as bloating and diarrhoea. Other symptoms include skin problems such as adult onset cystic acne, muscle and joint pain, headaches, brain fog and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or even ADHD.  

Gluten can inflame the gut. If this continues the gut may become leaky, allowing undigested food particles into the blood stream.  The body's immune system attacks this as an invader setting up an inflammatory response which underlies many health conditions. Disrupting the mucus membranes of the gut can also lead to Candida overgrowth, GERD and ulcers. 

Gluten can deplete vitamin D in the body leading to weak bones and poor immunity.  Gluten can also lead to leptin resistance. This means leptin levels are high but the brain is not picking up the signal that we have eaten enough and this can lead to weight gain.  

This is not painting a pretty picture but you should remember that gluten-containing grains are a good source of nutrients and you should only cut them out of your diet after consultation with a qualified nutritional therapist.  

So what grains are gluten free?  Quinoa, rice, millet, tapioca.buckwheat and amaranth.  Be aware that semolina and couscous are essentially wheat and should be avoided where there is gluten sensitivity.  Gluten pops up in many manufactured foods too, including soy sauce which can be replaced with wheat free tamari. Check the labels. Oats are tricky because they are gluten free but are often processed in a factory that also processes wheat and so cannot always be guarenteed gluten free.  You can however buy gluten free oats.

The only way to find out if gluten is the cause of your symptoms is to eliminate it from your diet for 3-6 weeks and see if there is an improvement in your symptoms. 

Next week we will look at healing a leaky gut.

Hope this helps
Janet x

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