Why You Should Go Gluten Free


Grains are a mainstay in most traditional cuisines, but according to a 2019 survey, nearly 18% of people in Western societies are now following a gluten-free (and even grainless) diet. Some must do so because of an allergy or sensitivity, while others make the choice to improve some aspect of their health (i.e/ eliminate digestive distress, lower inflammation and stabilize blood sugar). 


But what exactly is gluten and what does a gluten-free (GF)/grainless diet look like?


Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains such as wheat (most common), rye, spelt, barley and triticale. The two main proteins in gluten are gliadin and glutenin, but gliadin is attributed to most of the dangers and unpleasant symptoms. When these grains mix with water, the proteins form a “glue-like” consistency, hence the name “gluten”. Gluten occurs naturally but can also be extracted and added to food to enhance flavor and give a chewy texture. It makes bread dough stretchy and allows it to rise during baking and serves as a binding agent for many processed foods to help them hold their shape.


Protease is the digestive enzyme that helps our body break down proteins, but unfortunately, gluten is protease-resistant. Therefore, gluten is undigested when it reaches the small intestine. For some people, this does not pose a problem, but for many others it can trigger an autoimmune response or cause other adverse health effects.


People following a GF diet must avoid all of the above-mentioned grains, all processed foods derived from them (i.e./ bread, cereal, pasta, baked goods etc) and any products that contain gluten as an additive. A grainless diet takes things one step further and eliminates all grains (even non-glutenous ones) such as corn, oats, millet, rice and sorghum. This includes all foods that use corn flour or rice flour, and any ingredients derived from grains, such as corn and rice syrup. One exception usually made in grainless diets is pseudo-grains, such as quinoa. Quinoa is prepared and eaten similarly to grains, and has a similar nutritional profile, but is naturally gluten-free and botanically classified as a seed.


Ok, next question. How do I know that a gluten-free/grainless diet is for me? 

Certainly if you suffer from a wheat allergy, celiac disease or auto immune disease or related condition going gluten and grain free is a no-brainer. 


Decrease inflammation:

Many studies have shown that “going grainless”, you can help lower inflammation in the body and therefore reduce your risk for chronic disease. Additionally, by eliminating grains, you free up room in your diet for healthier naturally GF foods such as fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, legumes, eggs and lean unprocessed meat/seafood.


Promote weight loss:

Following a GF/grainless diet is often considered a great way to support weight loss (or weight maintenance). Not only does is cut out all nutritionally-void processed grains such as white bread and pasta, pizza, bagels, cereal and other baked goods, it may also naturally create a calorie deficit (lower calorie input, higher calorie output).


Stabilize blood sugar:

Because grains are rich in carbohydrates, they can be problematic for people with metabolic syndromes, diabetes, and anyone who has difficulty metabolizing large quantities of carbs (who doesn’t?).  Refined grains are the biggest culprit because they’re missing parts of the kernel (bran and germ) which contain the majority of nutrients and fiber.  Without fiber, carbohydrates are digested very quickly leading to an insulin spike and subsequent sugar “crash”.


Because our program is a modified elimination diet, we do not include any grains in the first two phases of the program. Once you reach phase 3 ADAPT or hit your goal weight (whichever comes first), we gradually re-introduce pseudo-grains to see how your body responds. If you do not experience any unpleasant side effects, feel free to include them in your diet in moderation going forward. However, if you start to notice any of the negative side effects (digestive issues, brain fog, bloat, etc), or if the weight begins creeping back on, we recommend cutting them back out for a while and seeing what happens. Refined/processed grains are never included in any phase of the program, but that is simply because we believe in eating whole, real foods the way nature intended!


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