CUT THE GLUTEN & REGAIN YOUR HEALTH

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These days most people are familiar with the term “gluten-free”, and many will have a vague understanding of what a gluten-free diet consists of. For many, gluten is assumed to only be a problem for people who have celiac disease; a strong physical reaction to gluten, and that gluten is fine (or even good) for everyone else. After all, we’ve been eating it for years and seem fine, our grandparents and great grandparents probably still eat it, and it’s promoted by mainstream health practitioners – how can we possibly not eat it?!

In this post I hope to inform you of the effect gluten has on both celiac and non-celiac individuals through the way it damages the gut, which can switch on a host of (often non-digestive) physical and mental illnesses. I’m not wanting to scaremonger nor to place judgement, I simply wish to inform, encourage enquiry and promote the idea that what you eat powerfully impacts your current and future health. Taking gluten out of your diet is not just a fad associated with certain “types” of health-conscious people. A gluten-free diet for many unwell adults and children is critical – the vital key to unlocking better health and a happier more vibrant life.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, bran, farina and kamut.

What foods contain the protein gluten?

  • Flour
  • Bread
  • Pasta/noodles
  • Oats milled with wheat products
  • Couscous

And also the following products where flour can be used as an ingredient:

  • Baked goods – cookies, cakes, doughnuts, pastries, waffles, pancakes
  • Sauces/dressings – soya sauce, can be used to thicken soups, gravies, salad dressings, marinades, curries, Japanese sushi rolls, Chinese dishes
  • Batter/crumbs/crusts – pizza, fishcakes, burger patties, tempura, fritters, pies, sausage rolls, samosas, hot chips/wedges
  • Snacks – breakfast cereals, cereal bars, crackers, croutons, processed lunch meats, imitation meat, pretzels, liquorice
  • Drinks – beer, some ciders, sake, gin and whiskey
  • Beauty products – toothpaste, lip balm, lipstick, make-up
  • Medication and vitamins

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What’s so wrong with gluten?

The composition of gluten’s two amino acid sequence (gliadin and glutenin) is still too new and too tricky for our digestive systems to properly deal with.

Gluten is not digestable by ANYONE on the planet” – Dr. David Perlmutter.

We need to appreciate that we did not evolve to deal with these proteins. As a matter of fact, for almost 99.9% of humankind’s evolution our ancestors have been gluten-free” – Dr. Alessio Fasano.

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What does this mean?

When we eat gluten it breaks down the protective lining of our gut. Despite the gut having an incredible ability to heal itself, it really struggles to when it’s constantly bombarded with pollutants such as antibiotics, painkillers, pharmaceutical medications, a poor diet, stress, chemical toxins in the air and household products, the contraceptive pill and so on. Our gut lining houses virtually our entire immune system, and it has more neurons than our brain, so if we break this lining down we essentially lessen our ability to fight off the many bugs and emotional stresses that we are exposed to. This could mean that we become more susceptible to:

  • Catching colds, flus, viruses, wheezing, cough, tummy bugs; less resilience to food poisoning
  • Developing allergies to animals, grasses, moulds, cosmetics; dermatitis, rashes, eczema, athsma
  • Developing allergies to different foods; feeling bloated; having intestinal pain, bad wind, diarrhea, constipation
  • Feeling tired or wired, irritable, sad, anxious; having “brain fog”; difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • Low or no sex drive; acne; weight gain/loss; sleep and menstrual cycle irregularity

…to name a few

When we consume gluten regularly our gut lining becomes so thin that undigested food particles break through our gut wall and get into our bloodstream – this is known as leaky gut syndrome. Our poor immune system gets so messed up with all this floating debris that it confuses what is good and bad and starts attacking our own system, creating autoimmune disorders and switching on genetic disorders you may have inherited from your parents that have otherwise been lying dormant.

By the time the gluten protein reaches the brain its chemical structure has changed to one similar to addictive opiates such as morphine and heroin. These opiates act to block off certain areas of the brain causing inflammation and triggering any number of mental health-related disorders.

So our guts and brains are on fire and the rest of the body is smoldering – was that cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner really worth this? Most people eat these things and have no idea of the havoc they are wreaking until major illnesses show up and can’t be ignored. Some of these illnesses include:

  • Psychological problems – seizures, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, autism, schizophrenia
  • Blood sugar and cardiovasular disorders – Diabetes Types I,  II, and III / Alzheimers, asthma, cardiovasular disease
  • Autoimmune diseases – Hashimoto’s, Alopecia, Graves’ disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis
  • Cancer
  • Gut diseases – Chron’s disease, celiac, leaky gut syndrome
  • Muscular skeletal diseases/disorders – rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, cerebella ataxia, Ankylosing Spondylolisthesis
  • Hormonal disturbances – PCOS, endometriosis, infertility, miscarriage or still births

What is so profound is that this is a mechanism that happens in all humans, not just the 30% or more of us who have blood tests that show that we are sensitive to gluten. This is all comers. It’s all of us who mount an increased permeability of the gut when exposed to this perverse protein called gluten

Dr. David Perlmutter. Hello Paleo.

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How can we put the fire out and not just fan the flames with various medications?

Removing the fuel that’s feeding the fire, i.e. gluten, will stop the damage so the healing process can begin. Even small amounts of gluten can halt the healing process and begin damaging tissue again, so you must be gluten zero. Of course some people can slowly reintroduce gluten once their gut is healed, but many simply choose to remain gluten-free after feeling so well without it.

Supplementing with probiotics, gelatin from organic grass-fed animals or bone broth, colostrum from grass-fed organic cows, and fish oils are fabulous ways to help heal and seal the gut.

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Why don’t our doctors tell us this? Why isn’t it more common place?

Translational research is research that changes the way doctors think and the way they practise. Now, it sounds utterly preposterous, but it is sadly true, that it will take around 17 years for mainstream doctors to act from this new information. This is an average, not an exception.

It was 21 years ago (in 1992) that Professor Michael Marsh authored a research paper that connected gluten consumption with celiac disease. How is it that still SO many people out there, including doctors, do not either know about or value the importance of a gluten-free diet when it comes to health and well-being? It was only 2 years ago that research about non-celiac gluten sensitivity came out – we cannot wait another 15 years until this vital information becomes mainstream.

What this research tells us is that there are MANY more people who are sensitive to gluten but do not have celiac disease. For every 1 person that has a problem in the gut after eating gluten (bloating, pain, constipation and so on) there are 8 people that have problems somewhere else in their body which they don’t directly connect with eating gluten (brain fog, depression, anxiety, arthritis, psoriasis, ADHD).

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Seeking guidance

If you are suffering from any kind of ailment that your doctor has been unable to help you with, and he or she has not asked you about your diet, then I URGE you to go out and find a Functional Medicine Practitioner. A FMP is someone who practises mainstream medicine but also has the view that you can regenerate anything in your body depending on the environment you give it – be that with relation to food, exercise, sleep and so on. They will not send you off with a prescription or make the conclusion that you are just a ‘sickly’ person or that your child is just naughty.

If you want gain a deeper understanding follow the links here to hear 29 of the world’s experts and opinion leaders on the topics of gluten-related disorders, nutrition and healthy living.

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Try it out

  • Mainly eat: vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, butter, animal fats
  • Moderately eat: fruit, coconut, nuts, seeds, rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, gluten-free oats, organic corn.
  • Become a label reader. Choose good quality gluten-free labelled products – you should be able to pronounce and recognise every ingredient on the label. Avoid all chemical additives and preservatives – no numbers!
  • Follow my recipes (all gluten-free), or google gluten-free recipes, or buy a recipe book –  there are loads out there!

* If you have gut-related disturbances you may want to also cut out all dairy products or at least replace them with raw dairy from a trusted source.

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If our bodies are expending less energy to deal with this tough protein, they have more energy for other more productive processes. Our liver, digestive and immune systems will get back to properly cleansing, nourishing, energising and strengthening us. We will feel happy vibrant and ourselves again.

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“The fate of your health, including that of the brain, is a choice,

not a destiny dictated by your genes”  

 – Dr David Perlmutter

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HEAL & SEAL ME: MEAT BROTH AND STOCK

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It might not sound massively appealing, but bone broth and meat stock really are where it’s at. Broths are yet another very nourishing tradition that are being revived and brought back to our kitchens. They’re undeniably one of the most healing things you can feed yourself and your loved ones, and so inexpensive and easy to make, it’s time to drink it up!

How I got onto broth

Having scarcely eaten meat in the last 10 years, it felt very odd, but gradually very right, to start reintroducing it slowly back into my diet. Tired of suffering from minor but persistent hormonal disturbances and other related issues, I finally took courage and reduced my beloved carbs and swapped them for more animal fats and proteins. It has been a year since this change and I can’t say enough just how much better I feel (and how amazingly little I miss grains/carbs). Clients and friends who follow a similar program have also experienced wonderful healing. Of course, not everyone believes in eating animal products which I absolutely respect. However, if you do eat meat products, I urge you to give this a try.

My research

I attribute a lot of my understanding and healing to the work of Dr Natasha Campbell McBride and her GAPS protocol. She is an incredible doctor who continues to cure thousands of children from a multitude of ailments such as autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, allergies, A.D.D, and depression. This protocol is not exclusive to children, with people of all ages healing the likes of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, auto-immune diseases such as Chron’s and Hashimoto’s, OCD, chronic fatigue and asthma. To briefly fill you in, the GAPS protocol follows the idea that all diseases (physical, mental and emotional) begin in the gut. Thankfully this understanding is becoming more and more mainstream. The gut serves as your second brain, it produces more serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter) than your brain and contains ten times more bacteria than there are cells in your body! So yes, we are in fact 90% bacteria. When you heal and seal your gut lining by balancing the bacteria in your gut you can heal your whole system. Bone broth and meat stock is hailed by Dr McBride and many other medical practitioners as providing your body with the necessary building blocks to provide wonderful healing.

So what is broth and meat stock?

They are mineral, amino acid, and vitamin rich clear soups. Broth is made by boiling raw or cooked bones of healthy animals, and meat stock is made by boiling the raw meat of healthy animals on a bone. Bones are so rich in nutrition as they are where the likes of iron rich red blood cells, immune support white blood cells and elastic collagen are produced. When you boil the bones these wonderful properties, undisturbed by heat, are drawn out.

Instantly recognised and effortlessly absorbed by our bodies these broths are bursting with the following benefits:

  • Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, sodium and potassium – all essential for the daily functioning of our body and gut and also act as electrolytes – could broth be the new sports drink?!
  • Proteinaceous gelatin – aids digestion by attracting digestive juices. Brilliant for intestinal disorders and allows the body to fully utilize proteins that are taken in. Particularly useful for anemia, diabetes and muscular dystrophy.
  • Cartilage – incredibly healing in treating cancer and bone disorders.
  • Collagen, hyaluronic acid, chondrition sulfate – all support connective tissue elasticity such as joints, tendons, ligaments, skin, mucus membranes and bone. Very healing for rheumatoid arthritis and joint pain…..and yes helping with wrinkles, stretch marks and cellulite too!

RECIPES!

Lamb, pork, beef or game

  • STEP 1: Put the joints and bones (with or without meat) into a large pot, fill it up with water, add pepper and good quality salt.
  • STEP 2: Heat up to boiling point. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a minimum. Simmer for at least 3 hours.
  • STEP 3: Turn off the heat, take out the bones (and meat) and pour stock through a sieve.

Chicken broth

  • STEP 1: Put a whole or half chicken (with or without meat) into a large pot, fill it up with water and add salt.
  • STEP 2: Simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours.
  • STEP 3: Take the bones (and meat) out and pour stock through a sieve.

Chicken broth/stock is particularly good for flu, colds and asthma as chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which thins the mucus in your lungs making it less sticky and easy to expel.

Fish broth

  • STEP 1: Add fish bones, fins, skins and heads (no meat) to a large pot with water and add pepper.
  • STEP 2:  Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a minimum. Simmer for 1-1.5 hours.
  • STEP 3:  Add salt to taste. Take the fish out and sieve the stock.

Great for virility! Rich in iodine supplies, thyroid hormone and other substances that nourish the thyroid gland. Increases energy and restores mental abilities.

Other handy tips:

  • Ask your local butcher and ask for all the discarded bones and joints – they may even give them away to you!
  • Alternate between different meats to provide a whole spectrum of nourishment
  • The longer you cook the bones the more goodness will be drawn out and thus the more nourishing the broth will be.
  • The test to see if your broth contains enough gelatin is when you chill it – it should thicken even to the point of jelling completely.
  • You drink it plain as a digestive, or add it to soups, stews, gravy, sauces, stir-fries…
  • Stock can be made in bulk and stored until needed  – great to pour into ice cube trays and throw into meals adhock – especially if you’re trying to disguise it for the kids!
  • Keeps for 5 days in fridge and 3 months in freezer
  • One cup a day would be marvellous!

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