Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, which is very difficult to digest and also effects the chemical balance of your brain. There are various reasons why quitting gluten can be beneficial, whether you have a clear allergy or insensitivity to it or not. According to Dr. Gliden approximately 90% of people cannot digest gluten well and thus eating it will cause fatigue, various digestive problems, as well as many classic food allergy symptoms. Gluten has also been linked to asthma, acne, diabetes, arthritis, etc.
This article consists of the following sections (click on the link to jump to the chapter):
The word gluten comes from the Latin word 'glue', and really, it does stick to your intestine walls and solidifies in the hot environment of the digestive system. The intestines also absorb water from your food, leaving the glutenated cereal paste to stick to the walls. This, as you can imagine, causes all kinds of havoc. Malabsorption of nutrients, bad bacteria and yeast overgrowth, general sluggishness, putrefying (rotting) matter that cannot be expelled, and the associated problems of gas, body odour, allergies, nutrient deficiencies, constipation, food allergies, liver toxicity, etc.
The main point I would like to make in this chapter is that it is not only those with Celiac Disease or certain allergies who have a problem digesting gluten. According to many recent reports, it is everyone of the human race who cannot digest gluten well! Thus it is actually wrong to call it gluten sensitivity because it is not human food. It is toxic for us!
Well, at least that's what I've heard. It sounds logical enough but I need to experiment and see the results for myself first before writing more on this.
In people with Celiac Disease gluten in wheat, rye and barley causes an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. Although the reaction with those with celiac disease is stronger, I wonder if the same reaction is caused with ALL of us. This is what I am researching now and finding out many interesting things. Some of the more interesting sources I am currently researching can be found here:
"Gluten Sensitivity - Links and Further Reading"
Dizziness (dizzy spells) is one of the common symptoms related to gluten withdrawal. Other symptoms are tiredness, achy joints as if having a cold but no temperature or fever, moodiness, brain fog, anxiety, fatigue, disorientation, sleepiness, shortness of breath, depression, food cravings, etc. It has been reported that the worst of the symptoms may go in 3-4 days but still having some symptoms for up to 2 weeks is not unusual. Some have reported quite serious withdrawal symptoms to last as long as 6 weeks, or even many months. There has been some suggestion that taking probiotics and some (not sure which) nutritional supplements may help get over the withdrawal symptoms quicker.
I was really amazed to hear that such a simple thing as gluten could have such drastic detox effects! It seems that this detox is a lot more severe than what I experienced when I went on a 100% raw food diet! But then I was still eating dairy and probably some gluten as well, in the form of soaked grains, raw cereal bars, etc.
So why on earth could gluten free diet cause dizziness?! It seems like such a severe symptom. Even quitting caffeine, which is a lot stronger 'drug', doesn't cause that.
Oh, but there is evidence that gluten may have an opioid-like effect on the brain, basically acting like a drug.
What are called 'opioid peptides' from certain food proteins, such as gluten, may travel from your gut to your brain. In the brain, these peptides can bind with opioid receptors, which causes you to feel a similar effect to opiate drugs, such as heroin and morphine: suppression of pain and activation of your brain's reward centre. On such drugs, whose effect clearly is a lot more pronounced than food-based opiates', people report feeling warm, protected and very content, they also report getting an extremely pleasurable rush and then sleepiness and a low afterwards. Nausea, itching, and other effects are also typical, not to say anything of the extreme withdrawal symptoms.
The opiod peptides in food are also called exorphins, and include gluten from wheat and other grains, as well as casein from milk. They act similarly to opiates on your brain and can make you feel weak and tired.
Gluten withdrawal symptoms can thus be an indication of an existing neurotransmitter imbalance. The longer the detox goes on for, and the worse it is, the more balancing is needed.
And that is not all, there are many more potential adverse effects from wheat, and on your brain and emotions. To find out more, please read Dr. Mercola's: "Can Eating Wheat Cause Psychiatric Problems?".
Here is one example in a quote from the article:
"One mechanism that can help explain the mysterious connection between wheat and mental health problems is the fact that wheat inhibits production of serotonin [the 'happy hormone' of the brain].
"Neurotransmitters like serotonin can be found not just in your brain, but also in your gut. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain!
"Therefore, it actually makes perfect sense to nourish your gut flora with probiotic foods and supplements to maintain optimal serotonin function, as it can have a profound impact on your mood, psychological health, and behavior."
- Dr. Mercola
I had a realisation the other day, before I was able to connect my dizziness to gluten withdrawal. I was thinking about beer and how it makes you lively and happy, even in boring situations.
I thought to myself: I wonder if the 'happy chemicals' in the brain get wasted on boring situations in such a way. And it turns out that they do.
Drinking alcohol, for example, stimulates the production of dopamine, another feel-good hormone. And repeated use of alcohol can impair dopamine levels in the brain, which makes you unable to become happy from natural causes. Thus alcohol, in a way, robs the happiness you would normally feel at non-boring events, and forces the happiness out of you at an unnatural time. That's why you often (not always) feel low when you have a hangover and if you drink a lot of beer, you may feel that you need beer at any happy occasions to truly enjoy them.
So the obvious link here is to wheat, and how it may - by stimulating the pleasure centre (reward centre) of the brain - rob some of the 'real' pleasure you would feel from life itself - and turn you into a bread-and-pasta-junkie instead.
This is from my notes earlier in the week:
"Alcohol makes you lively and chatty. It kind of forces that out of you even if you are NOT having fun. And wastes your brain chemicals. If you don't have happy chemicals left you won't be able to feel happy at natural moments. So not to feel lively and chatty among certain people or in certain situations is fine and normal. There is no point in trying to force it. Once you avoid alcohol, and avoid boring situations, your natural happiness will bubble through at enjoyable moments and with people who are important to you."
The other link between alcohol and gluten-grains is processed sugar, which is another stimulant, and another substance linked to mental-health problems, especially irritability, as well as many other health conditions.
During this diet, I am also alcohol free and eat as little sugar as possible. Today, in the bread I bought, I detected some types of sugar on the label, but I am staying away from all cakes and sweets, as well as added-sugar drinks, etc.
I have also written more on food and mood-swings here:
How to Control Anger/ Cures for Moodiness
There are many gluten free foods which are tastier and more enjoyable than gluten containing foods, albeit you can only enjoy them fully after you have kicked the carbohydrate and white-flour addiction! Many of us know that pasta is addictive... white bread is addictive... croissants, pastries and scones are addictive...
First thing I would advice you to do would be to buy a raw food cook book. I highly recommend Ani Phyo's books. Most raw foods are gluten-free and tastier than your 'normal' foods, because they are made from more fresh, unprocessed and nourishing ingredients.
This is not hype. It is an absolute truth. Raw gluten-free pizza is better than normal pizza.
Among other things, on top of most of the raw food recipies, the foods you CAN eat on a gluten-free diet are: rice noodles, quinoa and millet (sprouted and/or cooked), rice, wine, potatoes, and any non-grain foods. Instead of pasta you can have cooked quinoa or millet. You should be very careful with processed foods, as many have gluten in them, but making most of the food fresh will overcome the need for processed foods and you will lose taste for the 'endless shelf-life' items in no time in favour of a better-quality meal!
Gluten is really not needed and it is unnecessary. It works best as a binding agent but if that is what you are after, there are again healthier alternatives. To thicken sauces, you can use arrowroot powder. To make jelly, you can use Irish moss, although you will need a power blender for it to work. There are also non-glutenated flours you can use instead of wheat flour for baking: nut-flours, which you can make yourself, amaranth flour, corn flour, rice flour, tapioca flour, buckwheat flour, etc.
To make out-of-this world dairy- and gluten-free cakes follow the raw food cake recipes! Again, Ani Phyo's books will come handy but You Tube and Google will also get your started.
Vegan cakes are often made with banana as binding agent instead of egg, and it works really well. You can also use dates, or any other sticky foods to bind the cakes together if you want a dense, thin base. You can then create a thick mousse-type filling for the cake, or create may layers of thin bases and, for example, berries and maple syrup. These are classic raw food cake tricks and recipes can be found online and in raw food recipe books. Any Phyo's book is a good starting point as her recipes generally are tasty and easy to make.
The link below will take you to Amazon to preview the book and read the reviews:
For gluten-free crackers you can soak flax seeds (linseeds) and dehydrate them. But mix them with more flavourful things first. I would give you recipes but I have no time right now as am rushing through the topics on this article(!) and you can easily google "flax crackers" and find plenty of information on how to make tasty ones.
Gluten is basically found inside some of the grains. The most often-used gluten containing grains are: wheat, barley and rye.
Obvious sources of gluten: wheat, barley, rye, couscous, wheat flour, beer, malted drinks, some oat groats...
Wheatgrass juice, however, does NOT contain gluten because it is not made of the grain of wheat. More safe foods listed here: Gluten-Free Foods.
Beware - these may be hidden sources of gluten:
Malt, modified food starch, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins (TVP), dextrin, soy sauce, flavorings, instant coffee, ketchup, mustard, cake decorations, marshmallow creme, soups, deli meats, sausage, hot dogs, vitamins, medications, paste and glues on envelope flaps.
Very unfortunately I found out that also many of the Yogi Tea (spice tea) teabags have gluten (barley malt) in them.
Click on the Image to see the recipe for the 'dairy- and gluten-free creamy mushroom pasta':
One can use most of the raw food diet crackers as a gluten-free substitute for bread, because they are generally made using flax seeds (linseeds), or similar.
Rica bran, millet, tapioca flour, buckwheat and gram four (made from ground chickpeas) can be used as wheat flour alternatives, and there are many more.
For more information, you can start here, on Gluten Free Girl's blog: A Guide to Working with Gluten Free Flours
You can also experiment with flat breads. I have been making a Finnish version where mash potato is mixed in with the bread dough to make a special kind of potato-bread, which is very tasty especially when warmed up.
I went to Borough Market today at lunch time and had a dairy and gluten free burger for lunch from the "Veggie Table" stall. The gluten-free burger was made of quinoa and mushrooms and was bound with 'gram flour'.
I will test different recipies and write one here soon!
Most raw food pizzas are gluten free. I recommend, for example, following Ani Phyo's and Cafe Gratitude's cookbooks for good recipes.
But also cooked gluten free pizzas are easy to make. I made a simple and very quick to make pizza-base last week, and instead of wheat flour I used half-and-half rice flour and gram flour (made from chickpeas). The base was delicious. I will write the recipe here soon.
It is possible to get oats that have no gluten in them, however, most oats have been milled in facilities where gluten-containing grains are also milled and thus for this and other reasons the oats end up containing gluten.
Some research also suggests that sometimes oats themselves (even uncontaminated) cause the worsening of symptoms of celiac diseae (which is an extreme form of gluten sensitivity.)
Basically I am going dairy free pretty much for the same reasons that I am going gluten free. Most, if not all, of the dairy is very difficult for the body to digest and it is the number one quoted reason for mucous build-up in the body. Read more on my other article here: "Benefits of Quitting Dairy"
Dr. Glidden: "Against the Grain: Why Gluten is Bad" (video)James Braly: "Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous To Your Health"
Dr. William Davis: "Wheat Belly"
"It's a simple fact: Wheat products, such as two slices of whole-meal bread raise your blood sugar higher than nearly all other known foods, thereby creating this thing I call a wheat belly."
- Dr. William Davis, in Amazon video on the above page.
Dr. Davis goes onto explaining how his patients, after taking wheat out of the diet lost their bloated belly, lost weight, their blood sugar levels improved, but also, their asthma improved, their arthritis improved, their acid reflux went away, their irritable bowel syndrome got better, rashes disappeared, etc. It is a very interesting little video and I recommend watching it. Dr. Davis states that quite miraculous improvements in health are possibly with some a simple thing as just cutting out wheat from the diet.
Dr Davis also explains that there is not only gluten, but another protein in wheat called gliadin, which also stimulates the opiate receptors in the brain. It is converted in the body to a 'morphine-like' compound, which causes not only addiction but is also an appetite-stimulant, causing you to eat more of everything.
Dr. Joseph Mercola: The No-Grain Diet
My diary of going gluten and dairy free:
Gluten Free Diary
"Good Life Meals: Inspiration on how to eat and live healthy anywhere, while not restricting your life. My daily meals recorded. Good health makes good life!"
Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.