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How to tell if Gluten-free is right for you

First, these “new” wheat-free, gluten-free diets aren't really new. Nutritionists have known for decades that for some people gluten is a serious problem. Second, gluten isn't really the main culprit for most people. The problem lies in their overall diet. Too much sugar. Too many fried foods. Too much white flour. But when you cut out gluten, you tend to cut out most processed foods as well. You start feeling great and losing weight. Just watch out for gluten-free junk food now hitting grocery store shelves. More and more you see gluten-free cookies, cakes, and snack foods on the shelves. This stuff is pure junk, minus the gluten. Stay clear of it.

What is gluten, anyway?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, oats, and rye. So if you're on a gluten-free diet, it means you don't eat foods that contain "regular" flour. This includes bread, pasta, cereal, pizza, and most convenience foods. Food manufacturers also use gluten to bind together and thicken their product's ingredients. So surprisingly, you will find gluten in processed products like ice cream and salad dressing.

So how can you tell if gluten is really a problem for you?

First, take a good, hard look at your diet. How much processed or fried food do you eat? Do you eat sugar? Do you eat foods that contain white flour? If you said "yes" to any of those questions, try starting there.

Cut out all this and see how you feel in a week or two. If you feel better, you'll know that gluten wasn't the problem. Eating a donut and a Mountain Dew for breakfast is what's killing you. On the other hand, if you follow a clean diet and still suffer from a range of symptoms (see the checklist below), you may have a gluten sensitivity.

How to tell if gluten is really a problem for you Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that's becoming more and more common. If you have Celiac disease and eat gluten, for some reason your immune system misfires. It begins to attack and destroy the tiny villi that run along the walls of your intestines. These villi transport nutrients from your intestines out to your blood. So if your villi become damaged, you become malnourished, no matter how much healthy food you eat.

Each person is different, but some of the hallmark symptoms include:

  1. Abdominal bloating, pain, diarrhea and fatty stools 
  2. Vomiting 
  3. Unexplained weight loss 
  • In adults, Celiac disease can be much more subtle. Some of the symptoms include: 
  1. Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia and fatigue 
  2. Headaches, depression or anxiety 
  3. Joint pain or arthritis or osteoporosis and a tingling numbness in the hands and feet 
  4. Canker sores inside the mouth 
  5. An itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis 

As you can see, Celiac disease in adults can be very hard to diagnose. Most adults suffer for years before they receive the right diagnosis. However, another hidden condition can be mistaken for a gluten sensitivity...

Candidiasis: The Black Sheep Problem

Candida albicans is a form of yeast that inhabits the human body. However, the healthy bacteria in your gut called flora normally keep it in check. But if your stock of good bacteria gets wiped out, the yeast can grow and take over.

Things that zap your supply of good bacteria include: antibiotics, birth control pills, steroids, synthetic hormones or chemo. If you get the flu or have chronic diarrhea, you can also run into trouble. This is very common in people who eat lots and lots of white flour and processed foods. All these things wipe out healthy bacteria that normally keep the yeast in check in your intestines. There is no blood test for candidiasis, so most conventional docs deny it exists. But it does exist. The symptoms are very real. Though, they're often vague and may appear unconnected, such as:

  • Fatigue and irritability 
  • Multiple GI problems 
  • Headaches and difficulty concentrating 
  • Depression and obsessions 
  • Cravings (for wheat, yeast, sugar, refined carbs) and then bloating 

In addition, recurrent vaginal or oral yeast infections almost always points to an underlying systemic yeast problem.

How to solve the problem of yeast

There's no quick fix for candidiasis. To eradicate it completely, first of all you've got to get off all sugar and refined carbs. This won't cure the problem. But steps 2-4 won't work unless you've done this first – see “Candida Diet”.

Second, you will want to reintroduce the "good guys" back into your digestive system. High doses of probiotics will help create an environment in your gut where yeast can't survive.

Third, you have to take anti-fungal meds such as Citricidal, garlic, Wild Oregano oil, colloidal silver and caprylic acid.

Fourth, you'll want to make your gut more receptive to healthy bacteria. Start by taking a daily dose of prebiotics (such as FOS). This will feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. And an amino acid called L-glutamine will start to heal the GI lining.

So after reading all this, is gluten a problem for you?

Perhaps. Though I recommend cutting out the sugar and processed stuff first to narrow in on the problem. If it turns out that gluten is really a problem for you, there are plenty of other whole grain options besides wheat. Grains that don't contain gluten include corn, potatoes, rice, millet, and quinoa. Just don't get into the habit of eating gluten-free junk food. Skip the gluten-free neon orange cheese balls that cost an arm and a leg. Try some hummus and celery instead.


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