Our bodies don’t like gluten. It can’t process it.
We deal with gluten in the same way we handle invading bacteria; with an immune response.
If you’re suffering from random bouts of sadness or mood-swings, perhaps an inability to focus or think straight at certain times of the day, it might be due to your body fighting against the gluten you’re feeding it. There are many other nutritional components that can contribute such as blood sugar issues, and nutritional deficiencies. However gluten is usually a major contributor.
Both celiac disease and the more subtle gluten sensitivity are triggered by ingesting gluten and they can both result in varying degrees of:
- Brain fog
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Visceral fat accumulation
- Skin conditions
Some people experience all of the above, while other experience only one of these symptoms while avoiding the rest. If you can’t concentrate in meetings after your lunch-time panini, but you’ve always had perfect skin, don’t count yourself out. Any degree of any of the above could indicate that you’re one of the many who is affected by gluten.
Depression, Fogginess, and Other Neurological Effects of Gluten
Gluten finds two primary ways to damage our neurological systems.
1) Through the gut.
The gut is inextricably linked to every process in the body, not least the brain. An imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, often a result of gluten being present, has been linked to psychiatric disorders.
Leaky gut allows the half-digested contents of your small intestines to leak into your bloodstream, which does nothing good for the body. When bacteria exploit this weakness in your defenses, they may release lipopolysaccharides into your blood, which has been linked to depression and other psychiatric disorders.
A compromised gut affects our ability to absorb the nutrients we need, including zinc (critical for sex drive), tryptophan and B vitamins (critical for the synthesis of happy chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine).
2) Confusing the immune system.
The body reacts to gluten in much the same way as it reacts to invading bacteria, by creating antibodies.
Gliadin is one of the proteins that make up gluten, and unfortunately for us, it’s very similar to some of our own proteins, specifically the ones involved with cognitive function.
The similarity can cause something called cross-reactivity, where the immune system mistakes this nerve tissue for gluten and attacks it. This antibody, known as anti-gliadin antibody or AGA, can be tested for as a marker for gluten sensitivity. It can take as much as 2 years without gluten for AGA levels of an inflicted individual to return to normal ranges, but the benefits are felt within a week of the new diet.
Gluten-Free Products Only Make Things Worse
Supermarkets are overflowing with products that are indisputably terrible for health.
Lesson: Don’t trust them to give you robust health. That’s your privilege.
Products that are labeled as “gluten free” are very often packed with highly processed substances that are also antagonistic to health. They need something else to hold their products together, and without sticky gluten to help, they turn to other substances of the same ilk. Some of the refined carbohydrates they use in place of gluten grains are cornstarch, rice starch, tapioca starch, or potato starch.
“Gluten-free” products are, at best, a crutch to help you get yourself through the testing withdrawal phase that many people find tantamount to giving up smoking. They are not a long term solution.
Many of them contain grain that is almost the same, genetically, as the wheat that causes such problems in the first place. It seems they tend to do the bare minimum to get through legislation, allowing them to label their products as “gluten-free” without conferring a true health benefit to customers.
Use gluten-free products as a temporary crutch if you must. Otherwise, avoid as you would all manufactured consumables.
Our Simplest Solution
Cut out the gluten at its source. This does not necessarily mean you will lose weight, which is why many people initially try to go gluten-free.
You have the wonderful opportunity to take control of your health, to influence everything from your mental clarity and focus to your ability to see beauty in the world.
I myself found that gluten was the cause of irritating bumps and rashes on my skin, and that it was making me groggy and lethargic at various times. Cutting out the source of gluten, the grains, rapidly cleared my skin and gave me far more energy. This did not happen over-night , but it is a process you have to commit to.
Most of us find a lot of difficulty in giving up grains. Luckily for us, we’re not alone. I know a swath of effective tools that any of us can use to help us make the changes we need to, and they’re not difficult to learn. Things like using ground almonds or coconut flour to make treats for yourself that contain no trace of gluten, and won’t spike your blood sugar levels either.
The empowerment that comes from taking action to improve your body is immeasurable. All aspects of life are affected. If you think going grain-free could help you, I encourage you to take action as soon as you can.
Are you thinking about going gluten-free? Leave a comment in the section below and click submit, and I’ll be sure to reply.