Gluten free: separating the wheat from the chaff
By Jeremy Brown, Naturopath & Counsellor
(Adv. Dip. Nat., Post. Grad. Cert. Counsell., MNHAA)
As we enter 2017, you do not need to travel far to see; “Gluten Free Inc.” This new health craze has hit the mainstream media and food outlets. Ten years ago, it was difficult for a true Coeliac to find gluten free choices when eating out and though there are many more ‘Gluten Free’ items available, a portion cannot be certified. Coeliac disease is medical condition involving damage to the villi (‘hairs’) of the stomach to gluten. It is medically testable and and is requires a diagnosis from a Doctor. Many of us have ‘foodies’ in our circles, that friend preaching with religious fever on the “evils of gluten”. The advocates of this diet speak of ‘gluten intolerance’; a subtle yet controversial condition. However, there is some new evidence of glutens role in health, which will be unpacked today.
Gluten’s impact on the stomach
Due to modern processing of grains, foods such as pasta and bread while economical, also effect health in various ways. Gluten is a large protein molecule, which disrupts the stomach lining, resulting in the return of unwanted by-products to the body. Additionally, gluten has mild drug like effects on the human brain, one of the reason’s we feel better after eating it.
Gluten’s role in depression
A small trail involving 22 subjects, published in 2014 by Peters et. al., displayed that short-term exposure to gluten induced feelings of depression. They concluded that this might explain why clients with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity feel better on a gluten-free diet.
What this means
The advice from public health bodies’ is typically to avoid fad diet’s and eat a varied plant based foods. While excellent as a general guideline, it is impossible to address the individual. We all have our own way we relate to food from our culture, background and income. With both public health officials and ‘foodies’ advocating a one size fits all approach, the simple truth is that clients all have different responses to food, just thick of the last time you discussed coffee.
While the research needs further development, it certainly is compelling. I have seen a gluten free diet improve mild mental health condition in both my colleagues and friends. If you have had little success with other treatments for mental health I would encourage you to consider a strict gluten free diet as part of your overall goal. As with all chronic conditions, a broad yet professional approach is best, with gluten roles beginning to be seen.
Thank you for joining us.
Naturopath / Counsellor
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