The benefits of removing gluten from your diet

(The results may surprise you!)

By Gia McCloskey-Jurevich, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Omnia Health

Patients come to our practice seeking answers to their issues – and resolution. Wide-ranging symptoms include GI distress, headaches, migraines, joint pain, brain fog, and fatigue. Despite these very different symptoms, there often is a common thread. A surprising number of people have food sensitivities, which can be the underlying cause of these ailments.

The first place to start? Remove gluten from your diet.

We ask every patient to take gluten out of their diet, because it can be such a problem food. It’s that inflammatory! We have seen so much benefit when people eliminate gluten – and in just a few short weeks. (Our rheumatoid arthritis patients seem to benefit most.)

Here are some of the biggest benefits reported by our patients:

  1. Improved gut health / improved digestion – After removing gluten from their diet, our patients report less bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. They have more consistent bowel movements and quit using over-the-counter digestive health products.
  2. Decreased joint pain – Gluten sensitivity causes intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut). The gluten proteins can pass through our gut and enter our circulatory system. Our body recognizes these as foreign and – POW! – the immune system attacks. This can cause pain in muscles and joints. After eliminating gluten, our patients report less joint pain and stiffness.
  3. Improved skin issues – Surprisingly, skin issues such as acne, hives, psoriasis, and eczema are often connected to gut dysbiosis. Omnia Health patients frequently report that their skin conditions clear up after replacing gluten with other foods.
  4. Improved energy, mood, cognition, and sleep – GI distress is incredibly disruptive to your life and your sleep! After removing gluten and achieving digestive balance, our patients report sleeping better, being happier, and having more energy. It’s true! We hear that a lot!
  5. Fewer headaches and migraines – Gluten sensitivity can cause inflammation, which triggers an immune response. While it’s great that our immune system defends our body against bacteria, viruses, and foreign bodies, it can also wreak havoc in any part of our body, including the brain.
  6. Weight loss – This is a wonderful side effect of removing gluten from your diet. A key reason weight loss occurs is because our patients take processed foods out of their diet. Processed foods often sneak in gluten as filler, plus they pack a lot of calories.

Tips to remove and replace gluten …

  • Eat more whole foods, especially vegetables – Aim for making ¾ of your plate vegetables, every meal, every day.  One of my favorite ideas is to swap out traditional pasta with noodles made of kohlrabi, beets, spaghetti squash, zucchini, or sweet potatoes. You can buy a spiralizer to make these fun noodles yourself, or purchase them at Whole Foods and Sprouts.
  • Take a hard look at “all the usual suspects” – For many people, bread, crackers, wheat cereal, and pasta creep into nearly every week’s menu. But you can say goodbye to these culprits! For example, easily convert a burger or taco into a lettuce wrap by swapping the bun or taco shell with a large lettuce leaf. (Use any type of lettuce except iceberg.)
  • Eat the colors of the rainbow – If you think about it, vegetables really can be creative and exciting. When you eat a variety of colors – bright-red tomatoes, orange carrots, green avocados, and so forth – you’re taking in a wide variety of nutrients.
  • Watch for hidden gluten ingredients – Gluten can lurk in soups, sauces, salad dressings, seasoning mixes, and soy sauce. Carefully read labels and be alert when dining out.

Eliminate gluten for just 4 weeks to start seeing benefits.

In just a few short weeks, eliminating gluten can really make a big difference in your life. (To be truly effective, your diet needs to be 100% gluten free.) I encourage you to try this, and see if your symptoms improve. It’s not difficult, however, you may need to dedicate a bit more time and creativity to meal planning. Give it a whirl – I think you’ll feel more vibrant and energized!