Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats (unless they are grown in separate fields). In that case, oats can be considered gluten free.

Gluten is what gives breads and bagels its chewy texture. A Gluten-Free (GF) diet is free from these grains. So individuals diagnosed with celiac sprue, celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and gluten sensitivity need to avoid all foods made with these grains.

Classic symptoms for gluten related issues include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Joint pain
  • Anemia
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Acid reflux
  • Migraines
  • Skin rashes
  • Neurological dysfunction
  • Vitamin deficiencies

Some people with gluten intolerance have little or no symptoms at all.

Now, GF diets not only help individuals with celiac and gluten sensitivity, they can actually be part of therapeutic diet treatments for many health conditions. Autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal issues, neurological disorders and skin conditions can all benefit from a gluten-free diet.

Yes, removing gluten from your diet can indeed improve your health. However, it’s not necessarily just the gluten that is the culprit.

The problem is that, while gluten-free food has improved substantially over the years, food companies invented new ways to make gluten-free food taste more like its gluten-filled relatives.

As a result, many food manufacturers have added gums, fillers and starches to fill the void; Using ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, resistant corn starch, potato starch, and xanthan gum to name a few.

These other ingredients may carry their own health risks and cause other health problems.

People shopping at a farmer's market

Focus on eating non-processed, organic and local foods. Farmers markets carry a great selection and so do many local health food stores. When selecting meats, pasture raised and 100% grass-fed is best.

Include a variety of vegetables and fruits and eat when they are in season. Beans, lentils, wild fish, and grass-fed meats are all healthier choices and are minimally processed.

The takeaway here is not only to avoid gluten, but to avoid all processed food, whether they are gluten free or not.

Processed, non-organic dairy, factory farmed, antibiotic fed meats, cookies, cakes and refined flour are not going to contribute to your health, even if the label claims it will.

Fresh foods do not have labels and have short expiration dates. As Hippocrates once said, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”.