Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt, and barley. There are two primary reasons that gluten could be causing you health or digestive issues:
- The form you’re getting it in – white bread is a primary example. The flour is highly processed and hasn’t undergone the necessary fermentation making it harder to digest (hence why the only bread I recommend is sourdough, which has undergone this fermentation).
- The amount of it you eat – here’s where it gets really interesting… with enough exposure to certain foods, the protein contained in them can become an ‘invader’, and thus a sensitivity can be developed – which is why variation and rotation of food sources is so important.
Given the rise in food sources containing gluten, especially wheat given how cheap and easy it is to produce on mass, we must be mindful of our total consumption – and not just due to sensitivities…
Exposure to enough gluten for long enough can also lead to issues such as leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability), which is where the lining of your gut is compromised and cracks and holes can form. As a result, things seep through that aren’t meant to be there – such as bacterial endotoxin – which leads to inflammation and an immune response.
This is because gluten triggers a protein called zonulin, and this makes the holes in the lining of your gut bigger (to keep it simple) – which is what leads to leaky gut. Something I had when I had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Research also finds that those who suffer from IBS see a significant improvement in symptoms on a gluten-free diet – hence why gluten is one of the sources we initially eliminate on live.’s coaching plan The Gut Reset.
However, research also finds that it may not be the gluten that you’re sensitive to, but FODMAPs – fructan (the F in FODMAP) specifically in this research. FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that are commonly poorly digested. Again, a food group that we eliminate and re-introduce on The Gut Reset.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that can be pictured as a severe form of a gluten intolerance – where your body sees gluten as an invader which the immune system attacks. In this case it’s black and white and can be tested for.
It also may not be gluten that you’re sensitive to, but wheat! Which is a form of gluten. If someone who is sensitive to wheat went on a gluten-free diet they would feel better, and hence they might develop a false association between their symptoms and gluten as a whole – when wheat was the issue.
So, I have three recommendations that you can implement today:
- Limit the consumption of processed foods like white bread, pastries, and pasta (fresh is better) – opting for fresh, fermented, and less processed options such as quinoa, rice, sweet potato, and sourdough bread.
- Rotate sources of gluten in your diet if you are going to consume them.
- Keep all things stable in your diet and try removing/reintroducing gluten and wheat in different forms to see how you react, and act accordingly.
- If applicable, i.e. you have severe symptoms: Have yourself tested for Celiac Disease.
Author Ben Smith @bensmithlive
If you are interested in Ben’s Gut reset program you can now access Ben’s programs through IIFYM on our website.