If you saw my post last week, you now know why I don’t believe that going gluten free is a fad. Deciding to give up gluten can actually make the difference between being healthy and living a life of chronic illness. When I was first told that I had to give up gluten, I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to. I especially didn’t know if it was worth it. I didn’t feel that sick, and gluten didn’t make me sick. Oh, but it was making me sick…
When I initially got my blood work done to be tested for Hashimoto’s, I also had a lot more labs done so the doctor could see the whole picture. My CRP (C-reactive protein) was very elevated. CRP is the bodys response to inflammation, so when you’ve got a lot of inflammation happening, then your CRP will be elevated. I didn’t even know I had inflammation, besides occasional achy joints. My body had adjusted to it, so I was sick without even knowing! Going gluten free was the first big step toward reducing my CRP, and also taking lots of turmeric. That stuff is liquid gold, and wonderful at reducing inflammation. So I cut out gluten. 6 months later, I had my blood work done again and my CRP levels were back to normal!
5 Benefits of Going Gluten Free
- Decreased Inflammation: Gluten is known to cause serious inflammation in the body. This happens because gluten is a protein that’s difficult to digest (it’s more of a glue, really). Because it’s so difficult to digest fully, it irritates the digestive system, causing inflammation there and in other places (like joints). Going gluten free allows the inflammation in the gut and the body to decrease, because you’re no longer eating something that’s continually irritating you. (This is not only for people with Celiac Disease. You may not be able to “feel” the inflammation, but it’s there!)
- Gut Healing: Since gluten is a gut irritant, it often irritates the gut to the point of developing leaky gut. Basically, your digestive system has been irritated so much, it’s inflammed and not doing it’s job very well. This makes it easier for food, pathogens, and other unwelcome things to pass through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream instead of following the digestive system and exiting the body. This is where autoimmune responses come into play, because when gluten gets into your bloodstream, your body treats it as an invader and starts attacking. The thyroid cells in particular look like gluten molecules, which is why anyone with autoimmune thyroid problems must stay away from gluten!
- Better Digestion: Once your gut is healed, you can digest food easier! The digestive system wasn’t made to attempt to digest glue for practically every meal, which is basically what it’s trying to do with gluten. So when you’re going gluten free, you cut out the difficult things to digest and your digestive system doesn’t have to work so hard anymore! It’s much more efficient when you feed it what it’s supposed to have. (Lemon water is also wonderful for improving digestion!)
- More Energy: This goes hand in hand with better digestion. If you’ve got leaky gut, your gut is literally leaking out minerals and vitamins, along with bacteria, gluten, etc. If it’s leaking out, you’re not absorbing it through the intestinal wall, which is why many people with autoimmune issues are severely vitamin deficient. So once your digestive system is working well again, you’ll absorb all of the necessary vitamins and minerals, and you’ll have more energy again! (However, if you’re vitamin deficient, don’t wait for gut healing. It can take a while. See a Dr. for a good supplement).
- Fewer Empty Calories: This one is awesome, as long as you’re not just switching out your whole wheat bread for gluten free bread and still having toast and sandwiches with that every day instead. That’s a surefire way to gain weight. Going gluten free because of health reasons means changing your foods, not just some of the ingredients. Gluten free processed foods are almost worse than regular ones because even though they take out the gluten, they add sugar and fat to make it taste better (because rice and garbanzo bean flour don’t taste very good on their own). However, if you do it right, you can cut out the bread, pasta, and cookies completely. Replace them with fruits and veggies, and you’ve got quality calories and nutrient dense food! 🙂
Since going gluten free, I have noticed that if I do have gluten now, I get serious inflammation. More specifically, my legs and hips throb. I didn’t notice it before giving up gluten because my body was used to it. My husband has noticed that he now gets brain fog when he eats gluten (yes, inflammation can also affect the brain).
So while you may not notice a huge difference off the bat when you go gluten free, it does not mean that it’s not helping, and it does not mean that your body doesn’t appreciate it. I’ve heard from people with autoimmune issues that they “tried going gluten free and it didn’t help”… I don’t believe that at all. Just because you didn’t drop 50lbs, doesn’t mean it didn’t help. You need to have your blood work done and understand the relationship between gluten, inflammation, and chronic illness! And you also need to give it time. Gluten free for a month isn’t enough, you should be giving it at least 6 months depending on how advanced your illness is.
Have you noticed any benefits from going gluten free?
Next up in the series is 6 Steps for Going Gluten Free!