In this generation of health obsession, there’s no shortage of fad diets out there. But when it comes to going gluten-free, is it just a fad or are there some real health benefits? Well, from personal experience the health benefits are hard to ignore, and from a broad perspective the gluten free craze is here to stay- it's an increasingly popular topic of research and discussion in the health/science world. But first thing's first, what the heck is gluten? To put it simply, gluten is the term for the glue-like proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye that hold the grain together. Modern wheat comes from a hybrid plant that has been modified by food scientists in labs to increase productivity. It is sprayed heavily with pesticides and is far less nutritious than the original form of wheat our great grandparents were eating.
Where is gluten found? Unfortunately, there is no shortage of gluten! It's everywhere- breads, pastas, chips, baked goods, cereals, cross-contaminated oats, soy sauce, condiments, seitan, mock-meats, fried foods, candy, alcohol (mostly beer), brewer’s yeast, and even places you wouldn't expect like medications, supplements, and cosmetics.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity: Chronic stomach upset, diarrhea, irregular bowel movements, fatigue, acne, eczema, dermatitis, rashes, infertility, depression, anxiety, hormonal imbalance, brain fog, joint pain, muscle cramping, tingling or numbness of extremities, and rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms may be mild to severe and can be immediate or delayed. If you experience or live with any of these symptoms please consider giving a gluten free diet some thought!
My Gluten Free Experience: Since going gluten-free a few months ago, I’ve had to get a little more creative with my meals, but it’s honestly been a such a great experience. Cutting out gluten pretty much removed all the non-nutritious processed foods left in my diet like bread, pasta, pastries etc. Yes, there’s tons of gluten-free junk foods, but gluten-free AND vegan junk is a little more scarce, and isn’t something I regularly come in contact with. Since transitioning to a gluten-free diet, my skin has drastically improved, my energy levels have increased, and I find myself just feeling so much better in general. I used to get migraines a few times a month, which lessened after going vegan, but since going gluten-free, they have completely disappeared. I also had chronic cystic acne on my jaw line that just would not go away, and what do you know, a few months of being gluten-free and it's completely gone! If you have low energy, skin issues, feel foggy and tired all the time, or you’re just trying to make healthier choices, I would seriously recommend cutting the gluten for a month or so and seeing how you feel. For me, it’s made a HUGE difference and seeing that difference was motivation to keep it up. Here’s five reasons you should consider trying it for yourself:
If you like to bake, here is a list of easy to find gluten-free flours:
Gluten-free oat flour
Some things to keep in mind: Even if you don’t have Celiacs or a gluten sensitivity, cutting the gluten will still give you the benefits of a more healthful, less processed diet. If you are sensitive to gluten, you may be sensitive to grains in general. Experiment with eliminating gluten and/or grains from your diet for a month to let your body adjust and see if your symptoms disappear. Becoming gluten free is often a drastic lifestyle change depending on your current diet. But don't be discouraged, there are plenty of delicious gluten-free recipes online (including our raw vegan collard wraps featured on the blog)! The key to gluten-free meals is to keep it simple and focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. Sticking to whole, minimally processed foods has endless health benefits and truly is the key to healthy living.
As always, I hope this blog post was informative and helpful for those of you considering going gluten-free. Whether it's for the health benefits or to treat gluten-associated symptoms, we know you won't be disappointed with your results!
Tons of love,