Gluten-Free: Five things you need to know

You’ve no doubt heard a lot about going ‘gluten-free’ and noticed ‘gluten-free’ products springing up all over the place. But is it actually beneficial for your health to avoid gluten altogether, and why might gluten be bad for you? Here are FIVE things you need to know, and what you should do if you suspect you’re gluten intolerant.

As with most things nutrition-related, whether or not you need to avoid gluten depends on a number of factors. Let’s dive into what the potential problems may be with gluten.


The difference between coeliac disease and gluten intolerance

Gluten intolerance is a totally different condition to coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is a fairly rare condition in which the villi (delicate projections lining the gut) become completely destroyed when gluten is eaten. For a long time coeliac was considered the only condition where gluten needed to be avoided, and you either had it or you didn’t. If your test results came back negative for coeliac, then you could freely eat gluten, as it didn’t appear to be a problem for you. However, as time went on it appeared this wasn’t the case and Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) was recognised.


If you’re worried your diet is impacting your gut health, I’d highly recommend downloading my online course The Ultimate Gut Health Programme to help support both your digestive sysem and hormone health, whilst avoiding triggering symptoms.

It’d be impossible to include all you need to know in one blog, but the programme will have all you need to know to ensure you’re soothing your digestive system, whilst eating delicious and filling foods.



Gluten Free: Signs of gluten intolerance or non-coeliac gluten sensitivity

In fact, the problems caused by gluten can be far-reaching and affect any part of the body.

Gluten-free? How gluten affects your microbiome

Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity can result in significant and negative changes to the microbiome (your resident gut flora). This may result in an imbalance of beneficial and not-so-beneficial-bacteria. Seeing as though our general health and wellbeing depends on the health of our microbiome, it’s easy to see how gluten may be problematic for some.

Gluten free? It’s important to look at the bigger picture

There are a number of reasons you may experience gluten sensitivity. These include –

As mentioned,

  • The condition of your microbiome
  • How much gluten you eat
  • How nutrient-dense your diet is
  • Hormone balance

For example, are you eating a lot of gluten-containing foods? This isn’t hard as gluten is found everywhere! If you have wheat-based cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner and a couple of biscuits for snacks, that’s a lot of gluten for your digestive system to process. Remember that gluten is also hidden in some sauces and pre-packaged meals.

Gluten is an anti-nutrient


As gluten is an anti-nutrient it’s going to be reasonably difficult for most people to process, whether they’re especially sensitive to gluten or not.
Anti-nutrients are substances present in all plant-foods, including grains, lentils, beans and seeds etc. Plants contain anti-nutrients as a defence mechanism, to stop them being so appealing to predators.


Thinking of going gluten free? Here’s what to do if you suspect you may be sensitive

Unfortunately the only way to know for definite if gluten is a problem for you is to remove it from your diet totally, for a period of at least 2-4 weeks.

If gluten does indeed turn out to be a problem food for you, you’ll notice your symptoms start to subside over this time. Slowly start to reintroduce gluten. If your symptoms reappear then its definitely time for you to go gluten-free. If you don’t notice any changes, it’s unlikely that gluten is causing your problems.


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