Starting a gluten-free diet has become nearly as trendy as plastering a unicorn on your Instagram feed. The sticky, elastic protein found in wheat and other grains like rye and barley, has gained a bad rep, as people without allergies or celiac disease report feeling better when they eat gluten-free. But how do you know if going gluten-free is the best for you? We’re breaking down a few reasons to consider a g-free diet.
If You Have a Known Autoimmune Condition
Whether it’s celiac disease or not, any autoimmune condition can be improved by quitting gluten. When you eat gluten, it triggers the release of a chemical called zonulin, which causes the holes in your intestines to open up and let in toxic particles, proteins, and other substances that aren’t meant to get inside.
Research also shows that gluten is the main culprit when it comes to leaky gut and autoimmunity. Why? It’s inflammatory and can compromise your body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Eating excessive amounts of gluten has also been linked to malabsorption, and can lead to a deficiency of many necessary nutrients like iron, folate, and vitamins D and K.
Last thing: The gluten protein is molecularly similar to other tissues in your body, including your thyroid. That means that if you struggle with a thyroid issue, gluten could be exacerbating it.
If You Struggle with Headaches, Brain Fogginess, Achy Joints, or Stomachaches
Because gluten can aggravate the digestive system in a normal, healthy person, it can be a trigger for everyday conditions such as brain fogginess, lack of energy, stomachaches, headaches, and achy joints. Taking a deliberate, specified amount of time to eliminate gluten from your diet can reveal new information about the cause of these symptoms.
If these symptoms are debilitating and impact your daily life, getting checked for celiac disease is an important step—but keep in mind that you can’t get an accurate diagnosis if you’re not consuming gluten. You’ll want to consult with a doctor before you choose gluten-free.
If You’re Looking to Clean Up Your Diet
Much like non-organic fruits and vegetables, many non-organic wheat products (the most common to contain gluten) are heavily sprayed with toxic pesticides. Since exposure to these has also been linked to autoimmunity, cutting wheat out of your diet will help limit your susceptibility.
Gluten is also in many processed products, from baked goods to soy sauce. By avoiding gluten, you’ll also be avoiding a wide swath of food groups that are generally not contributing to a whole-foods-based diet. While dumping gluten won’t immediately create a balanced diet (there are plenty of processed, gluten-free foods on the market now), it will lend itself to choosing foods that support your body, give you more energy, and contribute to a holistic lifestyle.
Interested in learning more about if going gluten-free is right for you? Scheduling a free, 15-minute consultation with us can help you decide!
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.