For many years my kitchen has been gluten free. For many years I have been on a strict gluten free diet. For years I have been enjoying the benefits. But many times the question has come up, Why? Why do some people need a gluten free diet? What is it that causes some of us to struggle digesting this popular food?
There are so many possible causes for a gluten sensitivity. I have compiled a list of some of the most common. THIS IS BY NO MEANS AN EXHAUSTED LIST!
1) Celiac Disease: an autoimmune disorder where ingestion of gluten produces autoimmune damage to the villi in the small intestine. Malabsorption and many other symptoms can be associated with this disease. A gluten free diet is a MUST to treat this disease.
2) Gluten Sensitivity: A health problem where the ingestion of gluten causes many negative affects similar to Celiac Disease but without positive tests to prove Celiac Disease. Malabsorption, digestive issues such as IBS, or chronic diarrhea can also be related to this kind of reaction to gluten. Inflammation in any part of the body can result from eating gluten if you have a Gluten Sensitivity.
3) Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: This is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. It causes your body to attack your own thyroid. It is very damaging to the body and can result in many other problems. Many people who have this disease also need to avoid gluten for inflammation reasons. In many cases, a gluten sensitivity is also an issue with someone who has Hashimoto's.
4) Lactose Intolerance: This is a difficulty digesting the sugar in milk called lactose. It often results in gas, indigestion, and in some cases severe stomach pains, headaches and much more. Those with this issue tend to have other digestive problems, and struggle to digest the complex protein found in wheat we know as gluten. Lactose intolerance doesn't "cause" gluten sensitivity, but may be helped by the avoidance of gluten containing foods. Many times the underlying cause of Lactose Intolerance is a sensitivity to gluten.
5) Chronic Inflammation: This is a health problem that manifests in inflammation of the body that is continual. It can lead to or be caused by many problems, such as heart disease, lupus, or other autoimmune disorders, and even muscular or connective tissue issues. Those who experience inflammation on a constant basis may benefit tremendously from a gluten free diet. In some cases a dairy free, low histamine diet would also benefit someone in this case.
6) Mast Cell Disorders: This term can be used to describe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, and some other allergic type diseases. In many cases, the symptoms include anaphylaxis, severe asthma, chronic hives, and severe digestive issues. Those with a Mast Cell Disorder react very easily to gluten, and in may cases also have a gluten sensitivity. Those with these disorders usually have to avoid high histamine foods, as well as other known triggers that cause them anaphylaxis. Gluten promotes inflammation and thus would exacerbate the symptoms of a Mast Cell Disorder.
This is only a few, many more reasons for needing a gluten free diet exist. The gluten free diet isn't for everyone. I'm not one of those who believes in a "fix all" diet. There is no way that everyone of us would be enough alike to all need this diet modification. But the truth is, many out there who suffer needlessly would benefit tremendously from simply avoiding gluten! The key is to find out for yourself if the health problems you are experiencing could be helped by a gluten free diet! To do that, you need to try an elimination diet. The details of Why, When, and How to go gluten free can be found in my book, "Could it be Gluten?" and is available on Amazon as kindle eBook, or paperback version. Get your copy today!
Have a Happy, Healthy, Gluten Free Day!
~Gluten Free Em~