I believe gluten is best avoided for everyone, but you need to be sure you’re making wise substitutions. You don’t want to trade gluten-laden products for more junk causing inf. Yes, it’s good to get rid of gluten because it could be causing inflammation in your intestines and contributing to other issues in your body, but don’t forget to go beyond specific substitutions and give your diet a healthy makeover in the process. That way, you can get all of the benefits going gluten-free can provide.
What Is Gluten and What Can It Do?
We most often hear about gluten as a part of wheat (a protein), but it’s also found in rye and barley. Don’t forget what this category also includes- farro, couscous, etc. Gluten is also associated with celiac disease because of gluten’s ability to wreak havoc on the small intestine in people with this condition. Going gluten-free can benefit even those who don’t suffer from celiac disease, though, because some of us have an intolerance to gluten and don’t even realize it—until we cut it out.
According to NCBI, Currently, 1% of the United States population holds a diagnosis for celiac disease (CD), however, a more recently recognized and possibly related condition, “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” (NCGS) has been suggested to affect up to 6% of the United States public. Beyond the inflammation of the small intestine, poor digestion, difficulty absorbing nutrients from foods, and leaky gut, consumption of gluten can lead or contriubute to all sorts of autoimmune disorders and neurological and psychiatric conditions, like:
Other symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
Some Gluten Free Products Can Cause Weight Gain if You’re Not Careful
One common misconception is that just because something’s gluten-free, it’s automatically good for you or one of the foods for energy. While going gluten-free can contribute to weight loss, cutting gluten out of your diet and then eating whatever else you want to is not going to promote health and a smaller dress size.
You can’t regularly dive head-first into a bag of gluten-free cookies and come out svelte. While they may be made from types of flours that are gluten-free, they’re not necessarily slimming or great for you.
For instance, Glutinos gluten-free pretzels are made primarily of corn starch, followed by potato starch and oils. For these ingredients to be the main component of this food means that while you’re proudly boasting that you’re gluten-free, you’re not going to see the weight loss and all the improvements in your health that you could achieve otherwise.
Other gluten-free snacks still have loads of oil, too, which isn’t part of the Beauty Detox diet or any healthy diet, really. Oil is not a whole food. You’ll be consuming processed, low-nutrient foods, and if you’re frequently eating gluten-free baked goods, these foods can really congest your body.
Some Gluten-Free Foods Aren’t Very Nutritious
When wheat and other gluten-containing ingredients in foods are removed, something has to be added back in to replace them. I mentioned corn starch and flours, above. Such processed corn products are likely to be genetically modified and are largely lacking in nutrients.
You’re far better off not having the pretzels in any form for instance, and switching to some crunchy raw sunflower seeds or veggie sticks with salsa or hummus for a snack. Whole foods beat packaged processed foods, even gluten-free replacements, every time.
You May Spend More Money
When you go gluten-free and buy all the special, pre-packaged foods that boast a “gluten-free!” on the front, you’re probably paying more than you have to, especially if you like to snack a lot and you’re not at the point where you can gladly trade in your cookies for an apple without feeling deprived. It’s okay to take baby steps! You may spend more money at first if this is the route you choose to go while cutting gluten out of your diet, but as I mention above, the key is to begin snacking on whole foods—fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other types of grains—and getting the processed, packaged stuff out of your pantry.
Go Gluten-Free Naturally and Inexpensively
One way to go gluten-free without all the hassle is to eat more naturally gluten-free foods. There’s no gluten in an apple. None in a bag of spinach. You won’t find it in avocados or coconuts. Not even quinoa, buckwheat, oat groats, amaranth, or millet. Once you’ve cut back on the amount of breads, cookies, and crackers you eat in favor of more whole foods, you’ll be forced to find fewer substitutions. Some gluten-free bread can definitely be part of your diet, as can gluten-free pasta (I too like me some of my Gluten-free Vegan Lasagna Supreme), but the large majority of your diet should be made up of whole plant foods. If you have a sweet craving, try my Chia Seed Delight recipe or my Vegan Vanilla Latte, or just have some dark chocolate, versus eating gluten-free treats more than occasionally (like every day or week!).
The Beauty Detox lifestyle is naturally gluten-free, so you’re not going to go broke buying pre-packaged gluten-free foods; you’ll just learn to gravitate toward the right Beauty Grains, Beauty Fruits, and Beauty Vegetables and work with those when you create your meals.
Good Gluten-Free Options
I know we all need our transition foods, snack foods, and comfort foods. Sometimes you may just want some friggin snacks! 🙂 Don’t worry they don’t have to go completely. You will still make huge improvements as you upgrade your choices. Here are a few things to check out that will help get you over the hump when you’re making your way into a gluten-free lifestyle:
- Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers and cookies
- Crunchmaster Sea Salt Multigrain Crackers
- Rhythm Superfoods kale chips and sweet potato chips
- Go Raw cookies and chips- many of their products do NOT contain agave, which is a refreshing change from many other “health” foods. Some products are combined better than others. Eat in moderation!!
- Manna Organics bread, the gluten-free varieties
Yes, Gluten-Free Is Better, But…
So the answer to the question about whether gluten-free is always better is technically yes, but you need to be aware of the other components of your diet, too. Choose the gluten-free alternatives that aren’t coated in oils and empty of nutrition. Choose Beauty Food options instead for better health, weight loss, and glowing skin.
“Cut what out!” you have my full on respect… And as for the gluten thing, of course it is good, if you eat it in it’s most natural form with the endosperm, fibre and all = unrefined.
I never got to thank you… you may never know how much you impacted my life… not just because you promote a healthy lifestyle through raw nutrition. But because I suffered many years as a lactose intolerant person… I went years not knowing why I had a lot of issues, I don’t want to speak about. I mean you know what happens…? right… My daily lifestyle is like getting in a ring, and boxing with dairy, trying to fight off people that love cows milk. Some times your book, is the only thing that gave me the upper hand. I feel forever in debt… I don’t have money, but… I just want to say thank you so much…! I’ll fight for your cause.
Keep up the fight Jonathan!
Hi Kimberly, can you please recommend a gluten free bread that’s sold in Australia? Thanks Bianca
I couldn’t agree more. I was thinking of using a name brand gluten-free flour to substitute in a favorite “standard,” recipe, when I chanced to look at the carbohydrate grams. Yeeks! It’s as high as regular whole wheat flour. Buyer beware!
I had to quit Gluten at the start of the year due to a stomach parasite infection. I can honestly say that I never felt or looked better! I had a relapse during the summer by accident and within an hour I felt terrible. Headache, brain fog, irritable. Since quitting I have lost a huge amount of weight, I look healthy and feel pretty good. I also quit dairy for the same reasons and that has also had a great impact on my health. Interestingly I have really limited how much gluten my kids get and I notice that when they have gluten their behavior changes massively. Since quitting gluten I no longer crave gluten laden products. Do it!
I’m doing gluten free, dairy free and (trying) to reduce my refined sugar consumtion. My acne which was servere is basically nearly gone which is CRAZY : ). Keeping my blood sugar balanced helps.
My question is about my blackheads. They are all over my nose/around my nose, and on my t-zone. While I use dots of tea tree oil the only other product I’m using is a prescription face wash. I want to try a natural one…. do you think that might help balance things out??? I’m wondering if the prescription wash is over-drying…. I use clay masks every so often (Aztec Secret Clay) but that makes no difference whatsoever in the blackheads.
What kind of gluten free Manna bread do you recommend?
What is the connection to gluten and schizophrenia? I’d be interested to know the source of this information as I worked in schizophrenia research for 6 years and never heard of it.
I’m also curious about which research studies you are referencing that suggest a causal relationship between gluten and schizophrenia. I’m a physician and I recently had a patient ask me specifically about this blog post and that particular health claim. Her son suffers from schizophrenia and severe depression. Can you please cite the study that you are alluding to? Thanks!
Devon Sunda MD, MPH
I was intrigued by your question as a psych major hoping to uncover and research more mind body connection and I found this 🙂