Author: Maria Kuzmiak, Wellness Writer
For people with celiac disease, the benefits of a gluten free diet are obvious. Celiac disease is an allergy to the protein gluten, which is found in wheat as well as other grains like barley, oats, rye and malt. If you have celiac disease, eating foods that contain gluten can cause a host of symptoms, including severe gastrointestinal distress and debilitating fatigue. However, even people without celiac disease may be sensitive to gluten, meaning they would also benefit from a gluten free diet.
Going gluten free is becoming more and more of a trend because people who try it are experiencing amazing results. If you aren’t feeling as well as you’d like, try eliminating wheat and other sources of gluten from your diet for a while and see how you feel. It’s likely that you’ll experience some or all of the following benefits.
It’s amazing how many people who have tried all kinds of diets have reported that once they gave up wheat, the pounds melted off. Many people won’t see an effect that dramatic, but some amount of weight loss is often one of the effects of cutting gluten out of one’s diet.
One of the reasons people lose weight on a gluten free diet is probably connected to the fact that they are eating fewer cakes and pastries, fewer breaded and fried foods and more fresh fruits and vegetables. In other words, when you eliminate gluten, you also reduce the amount of sugar, fat and extra calories in your diet.
Lower cholesterol levels
Many people report lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol soon after going gluten free. The theory behind why this happens is that sensitivity to gluten causes the body to produce more cholesterol when gluten is consumed because the body makes cholesterol in response to inflammation. Inflammation occurs when you come in contact to allergens, even if the allergies are mild and don’t cause other symptoms.
Better digestion and nutrient absorption
One of the major benefits of going gluten free is that inflammation in the gut is lowered, leading to better digestion. Improved digestion is beneficial, whether or not you have outward signs of digestive problems like cramping, stomach upset, bloating and diarrhea. Those symptoms will improve if you have them, but you will also absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat, which will improve your overall health.
Hand in hand with an increase in digestion is the increase in energy that many people feel when they eliminate gluten from their diet. Again, this is a direct result of improved absorption of nutrients as well as a reduction in the inflammation and fatigue caused by the gluten sensitivity.
Relief from joint pain
People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and other kinds of joint pain have also reported relief from their symptoms when they cut gluten out of their diets. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body attacks its own cells. In cases of gluten sensitivity, when gluten is not digested, it can pass through the bloodstream and into the joints where inflammation is produced as a result of the body’s attempts to destroy the apparent intruder. The result of inflamed joints is, of course, arthritis pain. When gluten is removed from the body, this inflammatory response stops.
Many people who suffer from migraines report fewer and less severe headaches when they remove gluten from their diet. In some cases, migraines disappear altogether. Several studies have suggested that migraine sufferers are more likely to have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and that eliminating wheat and gluten from the diet can also eliminate headaches.
While transitioning to a gluten free diet, there are some natural remedies that can provide support and help the body heal from the effects of chronic gluten consumption. Eleuthero, gotu kola and olive leaf extract, for example, can help with energy and vitality, while dandelion and fennel are good for detoxifying and cleansing the system. You can also use herbs like echinacea, rosemary and mistletoe to boost the immune system.