Why do you need to cut out gluten?

Reasons-Go-Gluten-FreeWhat is gluten?

Gluten is the protein found in wheat and other grains like barley, rye, kamut and spelt. This includes most of our breads, cakes, biscuits, pastas, pizza, etc. You need to also be careful with sauces, dressing, thickners, etc as there is often hidden gluten in many packaged foods.

Some you would never suspect, such as beer! One that most people forget is Soy Sauce. A great alternative is Wheat Free Tamari. Tastes just as good and is good for you. Why I had to cut out gluten? It is believed that hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease in 90% of cases. There is very strong research linking autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s) and gluten intolerance.

One problem is that gluten damages the gut lining and increases intestinal permeability. Say what?! You see, our gut has the important job of breaking down and absorbing food and nutrients. It does this using a mechanism called tight junctions, which only allows food thatʼs been properly broken down to get through. Gluten actually loosens these tight junctions, messing with your bodyʼs ability to absorb nutrients and allowing bits that havenʼt been properly broken down to get through, which can prompt an inflammatory response. We are learning that even without a true allergy to gluten, this effect on the gut can produce varying degrees of gluten-sensitivity and intolerance.

Gluten-sensitivity can host a wide range of symptoms like fatigue, headaches, eczema & skin issues, GI problems, and depression. Over time it can contribute to an issue called leaky gut, (weʼll be talking about this more another day), which is the root of many health issues, including auto-immune diseases. Gluten is particularly problematic for those with Hashimotoʼs thyroiditis. The molecular structure of gliadin, a component of gluten, very closely resembles the molecular structure of the thyroid gland. Once gluten/gliadin gets through those tight junctures the immune system launches an attack. With Hashimotoʼs the immune system gets confused and also starts attacking the thyroid gland, mistaking it for the gliadin intruder.

The good news is that if you have thyroid disease removing gluten completely from your diet will dramatically improve your health. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. There are some delicious alternative grains available. These include quinoa, rice, amaranth, buckwheat and millet. It can be challenging as you may need to find new ways to create healthy versions of your favourite foods, but they can be done, it’s just about being creative! I have some great recipes that I will share with you, there are also millions available on the web.

The one thing to be mindful of is that gluten free does not mean healthy. I tried this one myself and tricked myself into believing that just because the chocolate biscuits were gluten free they were healthy and I could eat them everyday. While these can be enjoyed occasionally it’s still important to look at the real health benefits of foods. The most important take away is that you can still enjoy your treats (in moderation) even when eating gluten free.