in depth


Gluten: The Road Blocker

Nutrition for Life - Part II

In solving the riddle of inflammation, one of the keys is the gluten connection. Gluten is a group of proteins commonly found in grains such as wheat and barley. Gluten is an ingredient in pastas, breads and crackers, often used as a thickening agent in soups, sauces, and dressings. Most boxed and canned foods have some form of gluten. Without knowing it, you are likely to consume a certain amount of gluten every day.

Because gluten binds starches together, your body has difficulty breaking it down. This in turn creates swelling in your digestive tract. The swelling overcomes small hair-like follicles, called villi, whose jobs are to facilitate digestion and absorption. When your digestion is inflamed, your body has difficulty breaking down food, blocking the ability to assimilate and absorb nutrients.

Gluten-caused inflammation is correlated with many symptoms, such as bloating, weakened immune system, poor focus, joint pain and difficulty losing weight. It is actually an auto-immune disease, with wide-ranging effects throughout the body. One of the most common symptoms is constipation. Without the villi pushing food through your intestines, it stagnates and ferments. This increases the toxic load in your body that gets stored in your fat tissues and organs.

If you think you may have a gluten allergy, there are a few steps that you can take to further evaluate. You can get an allergy test from your doctor. Since 1 in 22 people suffering from a gluten allergy have a relative who is gluten sensitive, consider asking close relatives if they have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten. You can also try an elimination diet, eliminating all gluten products for two to four weeks to see how you feel.

Whether you are are mildly gluten sensitive or have full-blown celiac disease (gluten intolerance), there are many delicious foods for you to eat. Brown rice and quinoa are common grains that are gluten-free. Vegetables, fruits and animal protein have no gluten. Many restaurants and snack manufacturers are catching a ride on the gluten-free wave, so you have lots of tasty options to keep you healthy and inflammation free.

Try this Gluten-Free Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese recipe from Yogamint's Food & Flow

Skylor Powell
Health Coach and Yoga Instructor
Sprout Health Lifestyle

Recommended: Namaste Gluten-Free Waffle and Pancake Mix and The Almond Flour Gluten-Free Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam


Lilly commented on 04-Sep-2012 07:23 PM5 out of 5 stars

I am one of those people who are sensitive to gluten. But I never had anyone explain what actually happens. And that there are diffrent levels of sensitivity. Thank you for explainning this process

Andrea commented on 07-Sep-2012 05:18 AM5 out of 5 stars

Great article. I am also sensitive to gluten and the explanation was really informative. Thank you!

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