4 Reasons Why “Gluten-Free” May Not be for You

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Bread Food Healthy Breakfast 1080X675 1 | 4 Reasons Why “Gluten-Free” May Not Be For You

Gluten Free Options

“Gluten free” is all the rage nowadays—and it’s a marketing ploy that has Americans wrapped around its little finger in order to sell more products.

Cheerios now has a “gluten-free” version of all of its beloved products (Honey Nut Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Original Cheerios).

Most restaurants now offer gluten-free menus, or are at least aware of the gluten-free options on the regular menu.

And Wendy’s no longer looks at you like you have a third eye if you order a burger without a bun.

In a way, this is progressive for our culture.

Unfortunately “gluten free” has become synonymous with the term “healthy eating”—and that is not necessarily the case

Here are 4 reasons why the “Gluten-Free” May Not be for You

GLUTEN-FREE PROCESSED FOODS

A big misconception about “going gluten free” is that it means, “bring on the gluten-free pizza, gluten-free hamburger buns, and gluten-free frozen dinner meals at Trader Joe’s!”

The one thing that ‘gluten-free’ products are missing?

Gluten.

The rest of the ingredients?

The SAME thing as the foods they resemble.

Most gluten-free cereals, crackers, breads and pastas lining the shelves still contain refined grains, sugar, artificial dyes, and food additives—just with much crisper and prettier packaging.

Translation? There’s a difference in “gluten free” products and “gluten free” eating.

70-80% of gluten-free products are still just as sugary, chemically and additive-filled as other processed foods.

However, real food is naturally “gluten free”—without needing a label to prove it.

Think: Meat, fish, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and oils (coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, lard), fruits and veggies.

As for shopping for “convenience” gluten-free products?

Look for products with ‘real food’ ingredients—and preferably ingredient lists no longer than 5-7 ingredients, if that.

Some ‘real ingredients’ to look out for include:

  • Coconut flour
  • Almond flour
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Sea salt
  • Spices and herbs
  • Hemp

And others. 

GLUTEN GUILT

“I THINK I can tolerate gluten just fine on occasion,” a girl admitted to me recently. “Is that bad?” she asked, with a twinge of guilt.

I’m a BIG fan of listening to your body…and letting your body prescribe what foods it is able to handle, instead of a diet rule book or one-size-fits-all-approach.

“I have been eating an English muffin or sandwich a couple times per week…and I seem to be handling it just fine,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s good…”

(Uncertainty).

Your body is a SMART cookie and it WILL tell you if it doesn’t like something. The biggest problem is when you DON’T LISTEN.

Common “side effects” from eating gluten include:

  • Skin breakouts
  • Bloating
  • Yeast infections
  • Allergies
  • Digestive disturbances
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Brain fog
  • Leaky gut
  • Inability to concentrate/focus

…Just to name a few.

However, a little dirt may not hurt some folks (especially if you are not diagnosed with an autoimmune condition), and gluten on occasion is not the end of the world.

The important thing here is to be realistic with yourself.

Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, and a time of removing gluten from the diet (30-90 days), then reintroducing it, can also be a powerful way to see if you really are sensitive to it or not.

Just like if you were to take out eating apples for 30 days, then have an apple on day 31…chances are (unless you are sensitive to FODMAPS), your body would do just fine with eating an apple again.

The same thing goes for gluten. If you were to experiment with removing it from your diet for 30 days, then reintroduce it a few days in a row, you’d quickly discover your bod’s real stance on the substance.

MISSING THE UNDERLYING CAUSE

The reason “gluten-free” is often recommended?

Autoimmune conditions, ADHD, allergies, skin breakouts, autism, arthritis, Alzheimers’ prevention and bloating.

“I must be intolerant to gluten,” folks assume.

The real reason you aren’t “handling” gluten?

Poor gut health.

The cards are stacked against ya and the gluten-game if you have a leaky gut.

Although gluten (a sticky protein that is difficult to digest) can most certainly trigger “poor gut health”, if you are eating gluten in an already-poor-gut environment, then your “side effects” will only be escalated.

“Going gluten-free” can help the poor gut health situation, but additional support via probiotics, digestive enzymes and other gut healing foods must not slip under the radar.

BRING ON THE GRAINS

“Going gluten free” eliminates that one little booger ingredient (gluten), while still “allowing” grains—like rice, barley, millet, corn and occasionally oats, into the mix.

The problem?

Some people still can’t handle the grains—or their guts can’t.

Although many grains are “gluten free” they still contain components called lectins and phytates—known as the “steel armor” for protecting them in the wild from predators.

Lectins ward off predators (like animals and harsh weather) from eating or destroying them…and they do the same thing in our guts (making it difficult for some folks to digest).

Moral? Just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean your body (or your gut) can digest it.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Gluten-free is a trend that is a double edged sword.

It all comes down to how you define what “gluten free” actually means.

On one side, “gluten free” is helping hundreds of folks improve their health, heal their guts, fight disease and decrease inflammation.

On the other side, many folks see “gluten free” as “the healthy way” to eat—patting themselves on the back for buying the Udi’s bread at the store or opting for the gluten-free mac & cheese, over regular.

“Gluten-free” means simply eating more gluten-free grains (despite continued bloating, gas and brain fog) OR feeling guilty IF they DO happen to eat gluten (and have no reaction at all).

Aye aye aye!

The bottom line?

Eat real food the majority of the time (founded on the thousands-of-years tested human diet of water, meat, veggies, fruits and healthy fats).

Listen to your body.

And occasionally, a little dirt may never hurt.

Find gluten-free IS for you?

Check out tomorrow’s post on my top “gluten-free” options for everything, from bread to pasta, chips and crackers, and everything in between (PLUS, the scoop on Ezekiel bread).

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