Article written by Amy Fletcher
It is estimated that 83% of people with an intolerance to gluten haven’t yet been diagnosed with celiac disease, according to Beyond Celiac. It is these individuals that mostly benefit from ditching gluten from their diet. However, even the 30% of Americans who want to reduce their gluten consumption or eliminate it from their diet altogether can gain from choosing gluten-free food items.
Improved digestive health
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) reports that up to 70 million Americans are living with a digestive disease, such as irritable bowel disease (IBD). But it’s not just adults who are facing these types of conditions either as the NIDDK states that between 10 and 20% of children have recurrent abdominal pain which could be associated with IBD or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Both adults and children experiencing this type of pain may find that going gluten-free improves their overall digestive health. Gluten is commonly referred to as a trigger food in IBD patients and research has found that 65.6% of IBD patients see an improvement in their gastrointestinal symptoms after going gluten-free. It’s simple to remove gluten from your child’s diet to benefit their health, too. Where possible, produce your own food for your child using tools such as a steamer, masher, and blender. By doing this, you avoid the risk of cross-contamination and can easily see whether going gluten-free improves your young child’s digestive system.
While there is a lack of scientific evidence to back up the notion that gluten is linked to any specific skin conditions, many scientists believe that gluten and wheat are the reasons behind a high number of skin complaints. Dermatologist Valori Treloar, M.D. states that wheat and gluten can cause existing skin conditions, such as eczema to flare up. “It’s important for the consumer to be aware that wheat and/or gluten and skin conditions is a very common association,” she says. Meanwhile, there are plenty of individual success stories which demonstrate how ditching gluten can do wonders for your skin. Writer Allie Fasanella has documented how, after just a week and a half of going gluten-free, her rash caused by netherton syndrome started to clear up. Similarly, Amie Valpone of The Healthy Apple saw a significant improvement in her acne within 21-days of adopting a gluten-free diet plan.
Beat the bloat
Feeling and looking bloated after eating is a fairly common occurrence, especially if you’ve overindulged. However, if you’re feeling uncomfortable after meals containing gluten, then it’s a wise idea to give it up and switch to gluten-free alternatives. This theory is backed by research performed in a blind gluten administery test in non-celiac patients. The study found that 44% of participants experienced abdominal bloating after consuming gluten. Valpone, who has written a book about eating clean, says that she has experienced “less bloating in my stomach” since going gluten-free, and has benefited from “less brain fog and lower levels of inflammation.” Therefore, the next time you think about reaching for a sandwich, make sure it’s made with gluten-free bread, such as faux rye with caraway seeds.
6.8 million Americans are currently living with alopecia areata (AA), according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. Research carried out among juveniles has found that children with AA are much more likely to have silent celiac disease than those without hair loss. One reason why gluten can contribute to AA is because the body isn’t absorbing enough zinc. The Belgravia Centre reports that individuals who consume a high amount of cereals containing gluten may have difficulties absorbing zinc, which plays a crucial role in hair growth. With this in mind, individuals who are battling AA, hair loss, or hair thinning, may find that their hair growth retriggers by switching to a gluten-free diet which consists of plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat or meat-alternatives, and freshly-baked gluten-free bread.
Migraine is a common medical condition in individuals across the globe. The Migraine Trust reports that 1 in 7 people worldwide experience this type of chronic headache. But this painful condition can be alleviated by switching to a gluten-free meal plan. A 2001 study found that a gluten-free diet resolved migraines in 70% of the study’s participants. Further studies have shown that migraines can be one of the first symptoms in people who later go on to be diagnosed with celiac disease. As such, if you frequently experience migraines, you may choose to go gluten-free as part of your initial elimination diet as this can help to determine whether gluten is a trigger for your chronic head pain.
With so many people currently living with undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it’s worth switching to a gluten-free diet. This is particularly the case if you are prone to gastrointestinal issues, annoying skin conditions, hair loss, or frequent migraines. By doing this, you may find that your overall health and wellbeing improves and you’ll still get to enjoy plenty of baked goods which taste just as good as their gluten-containing counterparts.