Anyone who's experienced stomach pain, bloating, foggy brain, lethargy and any other number of symptoms of Gluten Intolerance (GI) will be familiar with the eye rolls of friends, family and waiters who aren't 'believers'.
"But did you actually take a test?"
"Do you have Coeliacs Disease, or are you trying to lose weight?"
"Oh that's your latest diet is it?"
Gluten intolerance on the rise
For those of us that have lived with the nasty symptoms of GI, it’s infuriating to be treated like a drama queen for avoiding the stuff. But perhaps some skepticism is understandable. After all, GI was hardly even a thing when we were growing up. In recent decades, the condition has gained snowball momentum, and is now 4 times more common than it was in the 1950s! So, why are swathes of the population suddenly unable to stomach gluten?
It's all about the gut
Generally speaking, experts put GI down to an imbalance in gut bacteria. While some people are simply genetically predisposed to GI, research suggests that it can also be caused by the effects on gut bacteria of a diet high in processed foods, sugar and alcohol. Consumption of antibiotics and the increased infiltration of GMO products into the modern diet also alters gut flora composition, potentially creating conditions for GI. Alarmingly, a 2013 paper published in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Toxicology draws a strong correlation between the increase in use of glyphosate (Roundup) herbicide on industrial grain crops and the drastic rise in Coeliac Disease and GI.
How to deal
Restoring your gut flora to a state of balance will likely help to ease unpleasant symptoms. Foods like gluten, sugar and highly processed packaged goods are best to avoid, or at least keep to a minimum. If alcohol is an irritant, switch to kombucha for a gut-loving alternative. Most of all, load up your diet with fresh, local whole foods (no sneaky GMOS!).
Got your own tips for navigating Gluten Intolerance on the daily? Comment below!