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!
Rheagan @ Where the Wild Rose Grows says
Love.This.Post! As a fellow Hashimoto’s sufferer, huge props to you for taking this step! Gluten is so problematic for thyroid autoimmune diseases in particular. I went gluten free when it turned out my husband was extremely sensitive to it. I had never noticed any overt symptoms from it, but I did lose weight. A few months later I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. Going gluten free wasn’t enough for me to manage my thyroid issues and chronic pain, but it was definitely a very helpful first step on my healing path! Have you looked into any potential gluten cross-reactors you might also have? For my hubby, it’s corn and chocolate, too!
Hey Rheagan! You are so right, gluten is so problematic. I haven’t checked any cross-reactors but I wanted to cry when I read chocolate haha! How did he find out about those sensitivities?
Nicole | The Professional Mom Project says
I’ve had to go gluten free egg free and dairy free to reduce inflammation in my body. I’m one month in and do have less pain but haven’t experienced the increased energy yet. Glad it works so well for you!
Good for you for taking the first step! It takes a while for the energy to kick in, but I hope that you get it soon! Having the decreased pain already is wonderful though. Thanks for visiting!
Tina @AMindfulFairytale says
I totally agree! I noticed benefits within just a week of being gluten-free-better digestion, less stomach pains, weight loss and my skin cleared up! It’s truly amazing and I am sticking to it for sure! Great post!
Amazing, Tina! So glad you’ve found something that works for you! Isn’t it so great how our bodies can heal themselves if we give them what they need and take away what’s hurting them? I love it 🙂
GiGi Eats says
Going gluten-free has saved my life – granted I still have loads of problems (ahem, I have celiac, crohn’s UC, IBS & no large intestine – ha)… But no gluten has helped a lot. In fact, I have been sans gluten for ohhh 14 years now?!
Awesome Gigi! I love testimonies of people helping and treating themselves with diet changes. Just the fact that you’ve overcome many issues even with the ones you still have is amazing. 14 years is incredible!
Thanks for sharing this information and your experiences. Although the food industry is taking advantage of the health problems with gluten and using it to their advantage as they market more highly processed foods (but they’re Gluten Free! insert sarcastic eye roll), looking at the scientific research has really opened my eyes to the problems with gluten. I don’t have an autoimmune diagnosis, but giving up gluten has definitely made a difference in my health. When I do indulge in gluten, the inflammation announces itself with cystic acne. Pretty clear message I don’t need to be eating gluten.
It’s great that you are doing research for yourself and taking charge of your health! I agree, gluten has so many problems that many people don’t even realize. It is something that’s hard for anyone to digest, autoimmune disease or not. It’s ridiculous how the food industry takes advantage of us at every turn!
Great article and very information. My personal opinion is that every should be off gluten because it will evidently affect their health especially children. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & tweeted!
Definitely yes to all of these! I feel like cutting out gluten helped me to be more aware of how what I ate affected my body, which is invaluable! Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Allergy Free Thursdays!
I totally agree! I’m so much more aware of what I put in my body now, whereas before I was completely ignorant and had no clue. Definitely invaluable!
I had no idea how sick gluten was making me until after I quit eating it. I had no idea that gluten was what was causing the inflammation in my joints. Now if I get any gluten I know it cause my knees and fingers swell up to the point of being extremely painful. I cannot believe the benefits of omitting it, yes I still miss a light fluffy biscuit. But not nearly as much as I love not having swollen and painful joints. Since I read your last post on lemon water I just wanted to let you know that as I’m reading this I am drinking warm water with fresh squeezed lemon and grated ginger. Tastes delicious and I can already feel it working. Thanks for continuing to push me to a better diet.
Ahhh, Nikki this made me so happy! I’m so glad you’ve started with the lemon water and that you’re noticing a difference 🙂 And I totally get the biscuit thing. There’s just no such thing as a good GF biscuit, right? But the health is worth missing out on them! And now you’ve inspired me to make a new batch of lemon water, I ran out a couple days ago and haven’t been motivated to make more. Thanks girl!
Just a note to let you know that I have chosen your post as one of my features for this weeks Real Food Fridays blog hop that goes live every Thursday @ 7pm EST. Thank you for sharing your valuable information with us on Real Food Fridays and helping us to make this world a little bit healthier!
Thank you so much Marla! I really appreciate it and I’m glad to be helping 🙂
elizabeth payne says
How much tumeric do you consume in a day? 😀
I take 2 capsules in the morning and 2 in the evening. 🙂