What’s Gluten & Who Should Avoid It?

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Today the word gluten is BUZZING. Gluten free (GF) is often equated to healthy living, and is largely trending in the market place. So what is it, and why are so many people avoiding it?

Gluten refers to the proteins glutenin and gliadin found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and other forms, such as triticale and einkorn. It is responsible for giving baked goods a doughy and elastic structure, and is commonly used as a thickening agent and flavor enhancer. The name GLUten, not coincidentally, refers to its glue-like properties.

An awareness of the negative effects of gluten is spreading and more people are realizing that it could be the culprit of their ongoing issues. When gluten hits the digestive tract and is exposed to the cells, it is commonly mistaken as a foreign invader.

Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disease that effects about 1% of the population. It causes the most severe gluten reaction, with symptoms including gastrointestinal disrupt, rapid and unexplained weight loss, anemia, dental and bone disorders, mouth sores, skin rashes, and tingling in the hands and feet.

When people with CD consume gluten, an immune response is triggered and initiates an attack on the intestines. Over time, the villi of the intestines become damaged, making it impossible for the body to absorb nutrients. Consequently, this leads to malnourishment and the development of many other chronic illnesses.

People with CD should never eat gluten. If you’re concerned that you may have CD, a blood test can be done to reveal antibodies, and an autopsy can show the intestinal damage for a diagnosis. It is important to note that you must be currently eating gluten for these tests to be accurate.

Having a wheat allergy is another reason why people could be having adverse reactions after consuming gluten, as wheat is the most commonly used grain. If an allergy is present, the immune system triggers an IgE mediated response. Symptoms will most likely be immediate, and can include swelling, itching, hives, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis.

Another category of people who should avoid gluten are those with Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). They can experience many of the same symptoms as a person with CD, except their intestines stay in tact and their body doesn’t produce the antibodies to gluten. About 40% of the population carries the gene for NCGS, but not all develop a sensitivity.  Currently, there is not a sure way to test for this, but the best way to find out if you’re effected is to try an elimination diet. 

As you can see, diagnosis can be difficult, but if you’re suspicious, I highly recommend experimenting with a GF lifestyle. While 10 years ago GF living was close to impossible, GF options are now widely available in mainstream grocery stores nationwide.

One thing I want to highlight is that while GF options are now available for almost everything, it is important to focus mainly on food sources that are whole, unprocessed, and naturally gluten free. This includes grains and flours such as millet, teff, amaranth, rice varieties, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, certified GF oats, corn, nuts, and beans. *Oats are naturally gluten free, but you must shop for oats specifically labeled gluten free because gluten is often added to commercial oats as a binding and flavoring agent.

Like any changes in life, dietary changes can be stressful and challenging. Try to be patient with yourself and take it one day at a time. Remember, sometimes it’s our greatest challenges that make us shine the brightest!

Please share this with someone you love, and do something kind for yourself today.

With Love & Gratitude, 

Brittany 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine a Time When You Felt Your Best

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If you’ve done a session with me, you know that one of the questions I ask is, “at what point in your life did you feel your best?”

Many of you may wonder why this is relevant to your health now, but knowing this information actually tells a lot.

I want to give you a personal example to help you understand why.

I felt my best, from the inside out, when I was pregnant with both of my girls. Other moms reading this may be saying, “What! That’s insane. I was miserable!” But, it’s completely true, and now that I’ve reflected on it, I can tell you why.

When I was 21, i was told by my doctor that I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and that it would be challenging for me to get pregnant. At the time, I was terrified because one of my lifelong dreams was to be a mom. It gave me more anxiety to say the least, but I added it to the ongoing list of my health hurdles. (See more health hurdles in previous posts.)

Fast forward 4 years, my husband and I had just gotten married and I was already thinking ahead to children. Knowing that I had PCOS and it could take years to conceive, I suggested that we start trying soon because it could take at least a year until the doctors would allow any sort of intervention. I had so many emotions surrounding this topic, and I just wanted to stop worrying and start taking action.

To our astonishment, I was pregnant on the first try! It seemed to good to be true, and I continue to be extraordinarily grateful for this every single day.

When I found out, I was ecstatic! So much so that I texted my mom immediately (I know, why did I do that!??!), but she was at work so I couldn’t talk to her, and I literally couldn’t hold the information inside of me. Sorry Mom…I dreamed of that being so much more personal…LOL.

From that moment on, I wasn’t concerned about my PCOS, my weight, bloat, digestion and other anxieties that plagued me at the time. I was concerned completely with the growing baby inside of me. It allowed me to finally RELAX. I ate foods that nourished my body, but also enjoyed treats “for the baby” guilt free. I allowed myself to rest when necessary, and I was grateful every day that I was going to be a Mom. I had let go of fears that I had been holding on to, and put all my energy into fulfilling my lifelong dream. I wasn’t overly concerned with myself anymore. All of the sudden, I had a much bigger purpose and my priorities shifted.

The moment I left my ego at the door, everything was better. I didn’t even realize what my anxiety was doing to my health before, but there was nothing better than that release.

My pregnancy experience helped me to discover that I feel best when I’m serving others. It gives me great sense of purpose and drives me to be better. While there was a mutual benefit for me to be eating well and treating my body kindly, I wasn’t doing it for me, I was doing it for my babies. Ironically, turning my focus away from myself resolved many of my ongoing issues.

Now that I am starting on a career path to helping others, I feel the same euphoric feeling I did when I was pregnant. I am redirecting my energy to serve something higher than myself. The decision to listen to my intuition and go for a dream that wasn’t completely self focused was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Knowing what makes me feel my best led me to what motivates me, and ultimately helped guide me to this current chapter of my life.

So now I ask you – when did you feel your best?

  • What was happening at that point in your life?
  • What did your stress look like?
  • What were your feelings about your body?
  • Were you physical active?
  • Were your relationships healthy?
  • What was your main focus at the time?
  • Where did you direct most of your energy?
  • What people and places surrounded you?

Take some time to really think about these questions. Compare and contrast you answers with you current situation. Is anything jumping out for you? What can you do now to replicate the feelings you had back then?

Our past can give us so much insight into our future. Use your history to guide you. Sometimes it’s hard to know what we want, but if we ask the right questions, the answer could be crystal clear.

If you’re currently feeling stuck, want to make a life change, or looking for direction in your life, I hope this inspired your thought process.

If this resonated with you, please leave a message in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading!

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany