Do you suffer from upset stomach, gas, indigestion, brain fog, low energy, skin issues, or bloating? You may be gluten sensitive or have a damaged digestive tract. While only 1% of the population is thought to have celiac disease, another 6-7% suffer from general gluten intolerance. Whether you have celiac diseaes or are generally gluten intolerant, the damage and inflammation caused by gluten is linked to many other conditions which can be much more serious like cancer, osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, and anemia. It’s well worth your time to consider how you can heal your digestive tract and get back to optimal health.

What contains gluten?

Gluten is in wheat, rye and barley. Some sources say it’s in rice, but it’s actually a different protein type that only two or three percent of gluten sensitive people will react to, so rice is usually safe. The most common source of gluten is wheat, which is in most breads, cakes, pizza crusts, pastas, doughnuts, casseroles, cereal and cookies. Most people enjoy consuming these foods, and a diagnosis of gluten sensitivity can be an emotional experience as you learn to let go of these foods. However, what you don’t realize is that the foods you thought were making you happy are actually making you not feel good. After a few weeks of not eating gluten, you normally feel much healthier and happier. 

Why is gluten so harmful? 

The element of gluten that causes problems is a protein called gliadin. The cytokines in the immune system are triggered by gliadin and unleashed during an “attack” on both gluten and your own cells. The inflammatory attack on the insides of your intestines happens mainly in the small intestines. More specifically, it damages the very small villi on your intestinal wall. This prevents the villi from being able to do their job, which is absorbing nutrients. In this way, damaged villi causes nutrient deficiencies.  You may have been eating gluten for years, and not realize that you have symptoms of nutrient malabsorption.  Nutrient malabsorption can cause anything from weight loss to low energy, dark circles under the eyes, frequent illness, hair loss, and damaged nails. If this is the case, then you definitely want to stop eating it and see how you feel.

 Is it healthier to eat gluten-free? 

Yes, if you eat the right foods to replace gluten.  Eating gluten-free bread versus regular bread can actually be less healthy (more sugar, less fiber), but eating a whole foods, gluten-free diet can be very healthy. An example of a whole foods, gluten-free diet would be lots of fruits and vegetables, legumes, organic meats and protein, and an occasional potato, rice, or corn meal product. For the most part, gluten does much more damage than good, and is well worth avoiding for optimal health. It’s particularly helpful to avoid gluten if you struggle with thyroid issues. Gluten negatively effects thyroid function.

How do I know if I’m gluten intolerant? 

Gluten intolerance usually involves not feeling well directly after you eat gluten containing food, but not always. You may feel bad hours later rather than minutes later. Symptoms range from gas, bloating, upset stomach, cramps, indigestion, and heartburn to brain fog and low energy. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s well worth your time to consider giving up gluten for a period of time to see if you feel better. You can also ask your doctor for food sensitivity testing, because you may not feel bad at all. Even celiac disease can be silent while still causing major damage. 

5 Tips for Optimal Digestive Health 

  1. Remove gluten from your kitchen and diet immediately, especially if you have symptoms of digestive distress. This means you need to check labels diligently for wheat, rye or barley. If your stomach hurts after you eat a certain food, it’s safe to say it’s not digesting like it should, which means you aren’t getting the nutrients you need. Gluten intolerance can also cause skin issues, so if you break out easily or have psoriasis or generally irritated skin, then you need to stop eating gluten. Gluten could also be causing inflammation and gut damage which can contribute to cancer or heart disease in the future.
  2. Do the Optimal Eating Program (Yeast-Free Eating Plan). You may find that 3 months on this eating program resets your digestion and then you can go back to eating normally. You may also discover that you feel 100% better while not eating gluten, white carbs and sugar. The Optimal Eating Program will also increase your vegetable and fruit intake, which increases fiber. Fiber helps digestive health in a number of ways, such as making it easier to go to the bathroom. It has also been shown to be helpful for weight loss. The Optimal Eating Plan will also increase your overall nutrient intake which helps heal the digestive tract.
  3. Another common allergy you can try removing is dairy. Dairy is also inflammatory, and while organic dairy products can be healthy and provide protein and vitamins, you do not want to ingest dairy if you have an allergy. It can cause significant inflammation and irritation like skin issues, drainage, and stomach upset.
  4. For quick relief when your stomach is churning, you can sip on warm peppermint tea. Peppermint has a calming effect on the digestive tract and the warm tea should also help ease your stomach. Neutra-Tabs can also be a quick help in a pinch. Just take 1-2 with a glass of water.
  5. Take high quality vitamins and supplements for optimal gut health, as listed below. It’s vital for gut repair and optimal healing which directly affects your health. Just keep in mind that it’s impossible to achieve optimal wellness as long as your gut is inflamed and imbalanced. The right supplements can help heal your gut which eventually improves wellness. Sometimes, the right supplement can help you feel better rather quickly.

 Digestive Health Products for Optimal Wellness:

  1. Digestive Enzymes  is a complete enzyme complex that helps breakdown fats, protein and carbohydrates. Some enzyme supplements only help break down fats, or only help with protein. A complete blend of enzymes can help a tired digestive tract have time to catch up, and gives it a bit of a rest.
  2. Curcumin  is an anti-inflammatory herb from the spice turmeric. It helps lower the inflammation in the gut that digestive distress and gluten intolerance can cause, which can help the gut health tremendously. Curcumin helps lower gut pain and also helps reduce toxins
  3. Fiber Blend  is a helpful supplement to add to your vitamin regimen after taking gluten out of your diet, because you may find it harder to get all of the fiber you need without whole wheat breads. The key is to consistently eat enough high fiber fruits and vegetables, but we know some days it’s hard to get the recommended 5-8 servings. Fiber Blend can help. It also contains helpful probiotics.
  4. Colostrum Complete  is a state of the art, high quality, isolated cow colostrum which contains beneficial antibodies, protein and vitamins which help heal gut inflammation and a leaky gut. Talk to a Vitamin Consultant about how much to take, because higher doses may be needed for optimal gut healing.
  5. Probiotic Blend is a gluten-free and dairy-free complete blend of good bacteria for improving gut balance and digestive health. Good bacteria are critical for nutrient absorption, attacking invaders, and helping heal the gut.
  6. Neutra-Tab is a safe, natural, and time released sodium bicarbonate tablet that helps reduce symptoms like sour stomach, gas, bloating, indigestion, and heartburn. It works pretty quickly and it’s a great idea to keep a bottle in your purse or car.

Optimal digestive health requires good intentions and taking positive actions. Giving up gluten and adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet may not be the easiest change to make, but it is rewarding. You will have more energy, better memory and focus, and your stomach will feel flatter and it may stop hurting altogether.  The more positive steps you take toward optimal gut health, the better you will feel. Pick one or two positive changes you can make for better gut health and commit to take action today. Maybe you give up gluten for just one week to test it out, or maybe you add in one new gut health supplement to help heal the damage gluten has caused you in the past. The most important thing is to understand how important gut health is for overall, long term wellness and take positive action as soon as you can. Your healthy gut will reward you for years to come.