Gluten free has popped up everywhere over the last decade or so, but why?  Gluten is a binding protein found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale,  the combination of gliadin and glutenin in wheat (2). Those with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, must avoid gluten in all forms (1), those with gluten sensitivity, and those with other autoimmune diseases, including autism spectrum disorder(5) are recommended to avoid gluten, but should everyone stop eating gluten?

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“Intestinal exposure to gliadin leads to zonulin upregulation and consequent disassembly of intercellular tight junctions and increased intestinal permeability.”  (4)

Gliadin seems to be the problematic part of gluten in the body, causing the overrelease of zonulin, the protein that controls the spaces between gut cells. As a result, the gaps open between intestinal cells, and bacteria, undigested food and toxins flood into the bloodstream, also known as leaky gut.  Although it is thought that in a healthy gut environment, the intestine should be impermeable to gliadin studies have shown that gluten exposure does cause altered barrier permeability (4).   The response to gluten has been found to increase inflammation markers and to release cytokines (3) upon consumption. Consumption can cause gastrointestinal distress, headaches, ezcema, constipation, and brain fog. It is also thought to contribute to the development and symptoms of autoimmune diseases, and can interfere with thyroid function.

Should everyone avoid gluten?

While not everyone may need to go out of their way to avoid gluten, if we take a look at the foods that contain gluten, most of them are refined flour products.  Refined flour products have been shown to be detrimental to health already, turning into glucose in the body, so a reduced consumption or avoidance of these products would not be a bad decision.  Additionally, pay attention to your response to gluten to determine whether or not you should be limiting the protein.

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Gluten is found in most flours and flour products such breads, crackers, soft pretzels, pizza crusts, cereals, and baked goods. Gluten is the binding agent that helps these foods stick together.   If you are looking for gluten free products to swap out those with gluten, there are more options available now, but, always read the label for fillers and additives that you do not want to include in your diet. We recommend the list of products below for a good rating of good ingredients and least loss of taste! Most of these can be found at your local health food store.

Canyon Ranch Bread
Cassava Flour
Coconut Flour
Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers
Almond Flour
Tapioca Flour
Gluten Free Oatmeal
Arrowroot Flour
Siete Brand chips and wraps

Have you gone gluten-free? What changes did you notice?


(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295065/

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213115/

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25855121

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377866/

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164915/

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