Have you ever wondered if there was one simple step is, that could instantly set you on the path to weight loss, and improve your health? Could a diet really be as easy as cutting out one element, and seeing results within weeks?
According to Mark Sisson, 59-year old former Ironman, this simple step does exist, and is the philosophy behind his incredible physique; but all you bread-lovers should look away now, because the step means cutting gluten from your diet.
According to Sisson, gluten is a “poison” that contributes little to our health, and hugely to our waistlines. He believes that by following a diet that consists of “mostly fruits, vegetables, meats” and “nothing processed”, you can not only lose weight, but very quickly remedy a variety of health complaints that you would not have even linked to gluten-consumption: Sisson noticed as he entered his 40’s, that he started to develop arthritis in his fingers. Putting it down as the natural and unfortunate by-product of aging, he thought there was little he could do about it.
However, what was striking was that when Sisson gave up gluten, the pain in his fingers simply went away! And it’s no coincidence; with an estimated 1 in 16 people having a gluten-sensitivity, we could be doing more damage to ourselves by not cutting it out than we think.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is the stored protein found in large quantities in wheat, as well as in cereals like barley and rye, which gives dough its sticky, elastic quality (gluten is based on the Latin word for glue), and binds it together. It is an incredibly large protein that people with sensitivity find hard to digest properly; in the case of Celiac disease, these large proteins particles can cause the intestine to attack itself, and cause permanent damage to the digestive system.
How Do I Know If I Have an Allergy to Gluten?
There are a number of symptoms that are textbook indicators of a gluten allergy. These include:
- unexplainable stomach upset, that is ongoing
- constipation or diarrhea
- lack of energy
The trouble is that these symptoms could also indicate all manner of other health complaints too. The best way to find out if you are sensitive to gluten is to cut it out of your diet for about eight weeks, and if the problems resolve themselves, then you have your answer.
Are There Any Treatments For a Gluten Allergy?
Antihistamines are a straightforward treatment but nobody wants to be reliant on a drug which needs to be taken constantly. Ephedrine can be administered in emergencies where there is a threat to life. A more unconventional treatment which is controversial and on the horizon is helminthic therapy, or the deliberate self infection with hookworm, a species of parasite that modulates the human immune system and supposedly dampens its reaction to gluten.
Will Not Eating Gluten Damage My Health?
As a species, we eat a lot of wheat; foods like bread and pasta are an easy and cheap source of carbohydrate; however, they are also incredibly high in gluten. And just because we do eat these foods, more out of habit than anything, it doesn’t mean we have to. There is a wide variety of carbohydrates that are gluten-free that will provide all the nutrient content of those like wheat- so your health need not suffer at all. For people who cannot go without, we have rounded up some tasty bread alternatives.
What is Allowed on a Gluten-Free Diet, and What is Not?
Adjusting to your new diet may take some forward thinking, and a change in shopping habits; you can no longer reach for the pasta for an easy dinner, but you may find that you were eating more gluten-free food than you originally thought.
First things first, on a gluten-free diet, you must avoid certain grains that are high in the protein. These include:
Instead, try to fill your cupboards with gluten-free starchy alternatives, such as:
If you are a fan of making your own bread, don’t panic- there is now a range of gluten-free flours that make great alternatives to wheat flour, made from rice, potato and tapioca.
You will need to be extra vigilant when it comes to processed foods, as gluten is in more products than you may think- from salad dressings to soups, to sweets and snacks, gluten is a common binding ingredient. But labeling on products will always give allergy warnings, and will list if gluten is present, so be sure to check.
Most stores cater extensively for gluten-free diets, and will usually have a dedicated “free-from” section, with a wealth of alternatives to try. People on gluten-free diets complain the most about a lack of snacking opportunities, since so many savoury snacks are wheat-based. If this sounds like you, then this is definitely the section of the supermarket to head for to discover new snacking and sweet-treat options.
As with any diet that cuts out certain foods, the main risk is that you will end up deficient in certain nutrients. In the case of cutting gluten, you may reduce your intake of iron, zinc, calcium and B vitamins. However, this can be countered by being aware of what you are eating, and making sure you eat plenty of foods that are gluten-free, but still rich in these nutrients. If in doubt, a daily multivitamin supplement will go some way towards topping up your nutrient levels.
Could A Wheat-Free Diet Be For You?
It’s not just marathoner Sisson who believes gluten-free is the way to go. This diet also has fans in Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus, who recently challenged her twitter followers to go gluten-free for a week, and see the difference it made to them physically and mentally. According to Cyrus, once you start the diet, “U won’t go back!”.
Novak Djokovic famously upped his tennis game and became world number 1 after being told he had a gluten allergy and cut it out of his diet.
What People on the Web Say:
I finally went on a gluten free diet after learning about it over a year ago. I was in denial at first, then rather angry that I might have to give up some of my favorite foods. I already had been following a fairly low carb diet (no more than 2-3 servings of low-carb foods per day) and had lost 55 pounds about 5 years ago. So I felt I had been taking care of myself and my diet and didn’t relish the idea of every more restrictions. But I finally made up my mind and plunged ahead.
I found it wasn’t really that difficult. I haven’t weighed myself, but I know I have lost about 5 pounds without really trying (I only have about 8 more pounds to lose) I have been on the diet for about 6 weeks, but lost most of the weight within the first few weeks. Some of the weight that I have lost seems to be water weight, since I no longer retain water in my hands, the place I notice it the most.
For 60 years, I suffered from almost constant itching followed by skin eruptions, which would manifest themselves as open sores for 4-6 months. Miserable! No physician could give me a clue as to what was going on with me. One day, I searched the internet and found out that I have a gluten allergy. It was a huge adjustment at first, but soon I found out that I felt better when avoiding wheat and wheat products. And my skin is almost clear after almost 2 years on a gluten free diet.
It is also a fantastic diet for those people with add adhd autism and asburger’s syndrome! I have two kids who have both bennifited from this who have those problems- and have seen a huge difference in them! Anyone can do this diet! or lifestyle as i put it- its all in your mindset and how commited you are to getting all those toxins OUT of you body!