6 Reasons to Go Gluten-Free (Even If You’re Not Celiac)
This post includes six health reasons why you might want to consider a gluten-free diet, even if you don’t have celiac disease.
There are several reasons why you might want to try going gluten-free, but let’s review the basics first.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is the general term for a group of proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten acts as the “glue” that holds the grain together and allows it to keep its shape.
Gluten can be found in breads, pastas, doughs, baked goods, cereals, and more unsuspecting places like cross-contaminated oats, soy sauce, salad dressings, condiments, deli meats, cheeses, fried foods, candy, alcohol, medications, supplements, cosmetics, and more.
If you’re trying to avoid gluten, then paying attention to food labels is a must.
6 Reasons to Consider Going Gluten-Free
1. Wheat is a common allergen
If you go gluten-free, you will end up avoiding wheat, in addition to other gluten-containing grains. Since wheat is one of the top allergens, then by going gluten-free you will be avoiding a potential allergen to your system.
2. Gluten can be inflammatory
If you have a gluten sensitivity, then eating gluten can make your symptoms, like joint pain, worse. There are reports that gluten can exacerbate arthritis, especially if you already have celiac disease. But, even for people who have non-celiac gluten sensitivities, there may be a connection between eating gluten and swollen joints.
3. Gluten may cause thyroid problems
Gluten can have a negative effect on thyroid disease, and there is research showing that a gluten-free diet can help reduce the antibodies associated with autoimmune thyroid disease.
4. Gluten products aren’t necessarily nutrient-dense
Gluten products, including breads made from wheat, are not considered to be nutrient-dense foods. In fact, both gluten-free and gluten-containing grains are often eliminated in diets like the paleo diet that focuses on only eating foods our ancestors ate for most of history.
5. Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivities
It’s estimated that up to 13% of the human population suffers from gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivities can cause a variety of negative symptoms, but will not necessarily show up on a celiac test. This condition is referred to as “Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.”
How do you know if you have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity? Some common reported symptoms include:
- Stomach upset
- Irregular bowel movements
- Headaches and migraines
- Brain fog
- Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders
- Joint pain and muscle cramps
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Tingling and numbness in the extremities
- Skin problems like acne, eczema, or unexplained rash
These signs and symptoms may show up immediately following gluten consumption or they may take up to several days to appear. The only way to know for sure if gluten is causing these symptoms is to try eliminating it from your diet to see if symptoms improve.
6. Gluten may block nutrient absorption
If you do have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease but you continue to consume gluten, it is possible that your intestinal wall can become inflamed. This condition is sometimes called Leaky Gut Syndrome and can lead to the inability to absorb nutrients from the diet.
My Gluten-Free Journey
I never even considered going gluten-free until I developed chronic hives about seven years ago. Up until that point, my mainstream doctors never mentioned gluten sensitivities, even though I had autoimmune thyroid disease.
At that point, I came across the term “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” and I decided to try going gluten-free. My hives slowly started to go away and I’ve never gone back to eating gluten after that.
Incidentally, I also follow a mostly dairy-free diet to also help manage inflammation. Read more about how to get started with a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. You might also like this comprehensive list of gluten-free and dairy-free foods.
For people with Celiac disease, going gluten-free is a must. Some critics consider going gluten-free to be a fad-diet that isn’t completely necessary. It is really something you should discuss with your healthcare professional and decide for yourself.
Some flours that can replace glutenous flours include:
Certified gluten-free oat flour
Cassava flour (grain-free)
A quick internet search for “gluten-free recipes” will lead you to countless recipes using these gluten-free alternatives. And, luckily, it’s very easy now to find gluten-free options at many restaurants and grocery stores (see my round-up of the best gluten-free items at Walmart). There are even 100% gluten-free bakeries in most big cities now. And, all of the recipes on my blog are gluten-free, too!
And, if you’re looking for gluten-free pasta recipes, be sure to check out my round-up of the Best Gluten-Free Pasta Brands.
Turns out, there are many reasons why you might want to go gluten-free, even if you don’t have celiac disease. If you’re considering making changes to your diet, this might be one of the first things you want to try.
It’s really up to you to determine if adopting a gluten-free diet is right for you. Many people choose to try eliminating it for a while to see if it makes them feel better. As always, it’s best to work with a qualified practitioner to help determine if a gluten-free diet is best for you.
Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.