There are many motives behind choosing a gluten free lifestyle. While some objections are common knowledge, others may surprise you. Below are nine of the most usual health-related reasons people stop eating wheat and rye.
The most common reason people avoid gluten is simply because this protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats upsets their stomach. It’s hard to digest, and the excessive strain on the stomach’s lining and muscles. This sometimes leads to auto-immune systems because the gluten is so similar to the tissue of the stomach and intestines that our bodies’ white blood cells accidently attack them instead.
As mentioned above, people with intolerance to gluten deal with a lot of tummy troubles. What many people don’t realize is that 90% of the body’s serotonin, the happy hormone, is created in the gut. So when your gut isn’t happy, your mind isn’t happy. And when your mind isn’t happy, no one around you is. You’ll have the blues deeper and a lot more often if gluten is gunking up your gut with gluten.
We’ve touched on Celiac disease before (see our gluten problem article). This is a condition when gluten generates an abnormal immune reaction in the small intestines. The damage to the small intestines screws up their ability to absorb nutrients, which can lead to anemia, weak bones, and increase risk of cancer of the lymph system.
Joint pain and arthritis
There is a major connection between gluten and arthritis. Gluten causes muscle and joint cartilage inflammation, and over time it becomes chronic. Add stress from gluten induced obesity, and you have a recipe for disaster. Also, rheumatic arthritis, a un-ageist auto immune version of joint breakdown, tends to correlate with celiac disease. Gluten sensitive people who want to stop joint pain can do so almost instantly by cutting out the wheat protein.
Psoriasis, acne, and eczema
All three of these skin conditions have been suggested to be caused by gluten indulgence. Gluten’s antibodies seem to be increased in psoriasis victims, over-stimulating cell growth and causing ruptures. Likewise, acne and eczema both seem to be linked to gluten byway of immune responses to it.
The brain-gut connection mentioned above doesn’t stop at Serotonin. In addition to the happy hormone, gluten also inhibits the brains ability to focus and calm. Recent studies have shown that a gluten-free diet over a period of six months has reduced the hyperactivity of children and adults that have ADHD.
Maintain healthy weight
The next time a friend says their cutting gluten as a way to lose weight, don’t scuff at them. Gluten not only adds unhealthy carbs to the diet, but also creates low moods and malnutrition that result in over eating.
Flour dust in early civilization’s bakers may have been the earliest show of a correlation between gluten and asthma. In modern times, asthma may be a direct result of the immune system being too busy fighting gluten sensitivity to also attack foreign objects in the respiratory system.
Lack of sleep
Fatigue is a symptom of both celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity, yet often anti-glutenists have a hard time falling asleep or staying so. While studies have been mostly inconclusive, some researchers say this lack of sleep is due to a deficiency in vitamin B-12 due to gluten’s blockage of the small intestines. This vitamin is responsible for promoting sleep and regulating the sleep cycle.
These reasons for resisting the urge to splurge on gluten-stuffed foods are only the most common. Keep in mind that there are dozens of others. If you have a friend or family member who’s deciding to take care of their body by cutting out gluten, try to respect and support that decision. If you are the one doing the purging, stand firm in knowing you are doing what is best for your health.