Perhaps you’re exactly like millions of people worldwide who feel a wide range of symptoms after eating gluten-rich foods.
If you’ve been curious about a Gluten-Free Diet, this article is for you!
Here are the Top 8 Reasons to Go Gluten-Free for Mind and Body.
Whatever you’re going through, I hope this post helps you decide whether to go gluten-free.
After all, the benefits of a gluten-free diet are widely researched and backed by numerous scientific studies – many of which I’ll share in this post.
What you’ll find here are eight reasons to consider going gluten-free, along with tips to make the transition easier and enjoyable!
Although it might initially seem that way, Gluten-free doesn’t equal bland, boring foods and an end to the foods you love.
Instead, it can open up a new world of nourishing, wholesome foods to help your body flourish.
Top Reasons To Go Gluten-Free
Read on to uncover the top eight reasons (and ways!) to go gluten-free!
In truth, there are many reasons people decide to make the dietary change of eating gluten-free foods.
You have been diagnosed with Gluten Intolerance, Wheat Allergy, or Celiac Disease.
Other reasons include having Functional Bowel Diseases such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease.
You might also feel bloated, have abdominal distension, and decide to try this diet. One caveat about bloating is that it can also be caused by sensitivity to certain foods called FODMAPS. While it’s beyond the scope of this article, it’s worth your consideration.
If you suspect you have an issue with gluten, you should speak to a physician, gastroenterologist, or clinical dietician. They can help you get to the bottom of the situation.
But first up, if you’re new to the reality of gluten-free products, it’s worthwhile learning what gluten is in the first place.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a family of proteins commonly found in wheat, barley, rye, and several other grains, such as oats.
It acts as a binding agent that holds food together, providing elasticity and texture to baked goods. It can be present in many processed foods, such as soy sauce, gravy, protein bars, candy, beer, and malt.
While gluten may be harmless for some people, it can be troublesome for others.
In some people, gluten causes inflammation and damage to the small intestine, notably in those diagnosed with celiac disease, wheat allergies, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
If you have symptoms, it’s critical to speak to a gastroenterologist to rule out the possibility of Celiac Disease. Many people have undiagnosed Celiac Disease, which can cause severe damage to their long-term health. The reasons are multi-fold, but the most critical issue is damage to the small intestinal villi, which are responsible for the absorption of nutrients, leading to severe health issues.
Kindly note: Consult your Doctor or Dietician before embarking on a Gluten-Free Diet.
What To Consider When Starting A Gluten-Free Diet
Following a gluten-free diet requires initial persistence when you start eliminating certain foods.
Things like reading labels on food products and meticulous consideration when eating out at restaurants, as well as a few eye rolls here and there from people who may need to be so aligned with your new dietary choices.
The great news is that gluten-free options are wide and varied nowadays, with many delicious alternatives available.
If that’s your thing, you could find gluten-free flour for bread-baking purposes and ready-made meals like pizza or frozen dinners.
While going completely gluten-free may seem daunting, doing so has tremendous health benefits!
- Reduction of Digestive Discomfort
- Improved energy levels due to better nutrient absorption from food
- Improved Skin Health
- Possible Weight Loss
- Reduced Joint Pain
- Improved Gut Health
- Elimination of Allergic Reactions
- Potential Reversal of IBS
- Disappearance of Excess Gas and Bloating
- Balanced Hormones
Let’s look deeper into eight reasons to go gluten-free.
1. Improved Digestion
Going gluten-free is not just for those suffering from celiac disease or known wheat allergies.
The reality is that many individuals may benefit from reducing their gluten intake.
Gluten products are notorious for causing bloating, abdominal discomfort, and fatigue after eating if your digestive system is sensitive to gluten.
By choosing to go gluten-free and eliminating gluten from your diet, you’ll allow your body to reset.
It may take a few days or weeks to notice a real difference, but I’ll bet that if gluten is the culprit, your digestion improves from not eating gluten!
Here’s an extra tip! Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and naturally gluten-free grains to add dietary fiber.
2. Skin Health
It’s undoubtedly a pleasant surprise if you notice a positive difference in your skin once you go gluten-free!
3. Improved Energy Levels
Going gluten-free may help improve energy levels, especially in athletes.
Of course, people respond differently to going gluten-free (as with everything), but many individuals notice a jump in energy levels simply from eating healthier foods and avoiding gluten.
When going gluten-free, it’s ideal to eliminate processed foods and opt for whole foods. This is true whether you are gluten-free or not.
In doing so, your body will receive more essential nutrients and, over time, address any underlying nutritional deficiencies, leading to improved energy levels. If you are starting a gluten-free diet, work with a medical professional who can recommend supplements and monitor your progress.
4. Better Focus and Reduced Headaches
Fed up with brain fog? If gluten sensitivity is your issue, going gluten-free could be the answer.
Brain fog accounts for varying symptoms, including lack of concentration, chronic tiredness, frustration, and confusion.
It’s worth noting, however, that many other conditions can contribute to the feelings of brain fog. Migraines and headaches – are caused by many issues, not just gluten. Still, those who choose to go gluten-free often notice improved cognitive function as a by-product, especially those with Celiac Disease.
5. Hormone Balance
Similarly to having better focus and concentration, the body’s natural hormones may balance out if you choose a healthy diet with gluten-free foods.
The relationship between gluten and hormones has yet to be fully understood, and studies show various results.
Yet many women claim to have improved hormones, leading to reduced menstrual pains and more regular cycles.
Particularly, those who suffer from Celiac Disease may see an improvement in hormone levels simply by reducing inflammation when eating a gluten-free diet.
For Celiac Patients, any amount of gluten causes a negative effect.
6. Possible Weight Loss
If you’re looking to lose weight, going gluten-free may help, primarily if you focus on making healthy food choices.
The reason is that many wheat-based products are foods like muffins, cakes, bread, and cookies. Let’s be honest – whether you are gluten-free or not, eating a balanced diet is essential to weight management.
I’m not saying you need to avoid sweet things altogether if you go gluten-free, but simply cutting down on processed food means taking in fewer calories, leading to weight loss.
The good news is that many alternative gluten-free recipes and dessert ideas exist!
For example, by eating a Mediterranean Diet version of a Gluten-Free diet, you set yourself up for weight loss success! You can remove gluten and improve your overall health by focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole gluten-free grains, seafood, olive oil, flax oil, beans, nuts, seeds, and healthy dairy and having occasional desserts and treats.
7. Possible Reduced Inflammation on a Gluten-Free Diet
General inflammation in the body is a common symptom of various conditions, including stress, anxiety, and chronic illness.
Gluten can also contribute to inflammation, impacting how the gut functions.
But what is inflammation?
Inflammation, in simple words, is the body’s way of protecting itself against harmful pathogens.
Two types of inflammation can occur, which are:
Short-term inflammation (acute)
To elaborate, inflammation is an immune response that protects the body from harm and initiates healing.
However, long-term inflammation can damage the body and trigger various immune responses, leading to autoimmune issues.
There is research supporting a gluten-free diet for non-celiac autoimmune conditions.
8. Eating Whole Fresh Foods
The fact is that food is our body’s fuel. Without it, we wouldn’t survive.
This leads to the point that there’s been a lot of talk recently about the impact of processed foods on our general health.
Things like refined sugars, too much caffeine, processed foods, and alcohol, to name a few. When eating Gluten-Free, focus on lots of fresh salads, vegetables, fruit, etc., rather than processed gluten-free food.
Consider looking at the Paleo Diet or Mediterranean Diet for examples of eating styles that are tasty and nutritious at the same time! Both of these diets are easily adaptable to Gluten-Free.
I love eating whole foods that feed my body rather than doing the opposite.
There are many options out there to discover for yourself. I share 100% gluten-free recipes here at Delectable Food Life.
How to Eat a Gluten-Free Diet
One of the most essential things when following a gluten-free diet is learning which foods contain gluten (and which do not.)
I advocate mainly eating naturally gluten-free foods over manufactured gluten-free foods simply for the health benefits.
Your body will thank you! I subscribe to the 90/10 Rule. Eat Healthy 90% of the time and allow for occasional indulgences, gluten-free, of course.
Examples of naturally gluten-free grains include:
- Buckwheat (even though the word wheat is in the name, it’s a gluten-free grain)
Other examples of gluten-free foods include:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Potatoes (all)
- Dairy Products
- Gluten-Free Oats
Meal Planning and Dining Out
Consider meal planning at the beginning with these foods in mind. Gather a few Gluten-Free Recipes and then start building from there. Here are a few of my favorite recipes from my blog:
Easy Ultimate Chicken Cacciatore – Flavorful with a Sumptious Sauce
Honey, Turmeric Chicken Thighs – Fantastic with Roasted Broccoli
Mediterranean Chicken Breast Recipe – This mozzarella-smothered recipe is delicious!
Also, when eating out, many restaurants now offer a Gluten-Free Menu (ask the waiter). I am Gluten Sensitive and always explain to the waiter that I am ‘allergic to wheat.’ I usually order off the gluten-free menu if they have one or order sauteed fish and veggies (hold the wheat and sauce). Grilled steak, veggies, and baked potato are also beautiful options. You can always ask for the restaurant manager and explain your needs.
Soon, you’ll get into the habit of not eating gluten and forget you ever ate it in the first place!
If you are Celiac, working with a Dietician is essential as many other gluten cross-contamination and gluten-exposure steps must be addressed. Think about those crumbs in the toaster, for example!
Remember, you have many options for gluten-free recipes online, in recipe books, and here on my blog.
Final Thoughts and Tips
While various “convenience” gluten-free foods, such as ready-made bread and muffins, are available, they often lack the same nutritional benefit as whole foods, such as gluten-free whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Additionally, processed foods often have added sugar/salt/fats for flavor, which leads to health issues if consumed in excess.
It’s essential to be aware of products that contain hidden sources of gluten, too. Things like malt vinegar and soy sauce are some examples.
Remember to read labels carefully for items labeled “gluten-free,” as the FDA has strict guidelines on what qualifies as a genuinely gluten-free product.
Here’s an article I wrote on How To Start a Gluten-Free Diet. It includes Facts and a Meal Plan.
Finally, I recommend speaking with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian before drastically changing your diet.
Especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or allergies that might be affected by eliminating certain food groups from your meals.
I hope this post inspires you to try a gluten-free diet to see how you feel and what improvements it makes!
Feel free to drop a comment below if you have any feedback or suggestions to make.
I’d love to hear from you if you decide to go gluten-free and what your journey looks like.
Lastly, if you’d like to learn more about gluten-free living and recipes, visit my blog at Delectable Food Life.
Thanks for reading!
References and Links:
Dr Vikki Petersen, 2022, Hormone Imbalance & Gluten: More About the Connection, accessed 14.8.23, https://rootcausemedicalclinics.com/hormone-imbalance-gluten/
Katheryn A Bell, Aunna Pourang, Natasha A Mesinkovska, Michael A Cardis, 2021, The effect of gluten on skin and hair: a systematic review, accessed 14.8.23, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33999573/
Jane Anderson, 2022, Differences between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, accessed 14.8.23, https://www.verywellhealth.com/gluten-sensitivity-vs-celiac-disease-562964