So thinking back to this past Christmas… always a great time of the year! Everyone is in a good mood and you can smell Christmas dinner cooking for hours on end as we all sit around and put our feet up laughing at each other from years gone past. The Christmas I just had was like every other Christmas gone before, with the family huddled around a big house for the day, my mother in law was in charge of the Christmas dinner this year. Great, a day off for me!
Several days prior I had given her strict instructions for my fiancé and myself – everything must be organic and everything must be gluten free. “Understood!” she said.
Upon inspection of the Christmas dinner cooking away, I witnessed the entire spread being laced with gluten – here and there little dribbles of wheat-infested gluttony, she almost had a smile on her face as she did it too!! I’m only kidding, she just wasn’t aware of the difference between organic and gluten free.
Needless to say, I tried to resurrect the dinner by remaking half of it with gluten free components, however the next day alas; my fiancé and I were puffy and swollen. His six-pack had flattened out, and yes it’s because of the gluten – that’s what it does!
Take note, organic and gluten free are two completely different things, just because something is organic doesn’t mean that it is gluten free. Does it make youhealthier or give you any less intestinal permeability if you eat organic gluten? Probably not!
So here is a quick write up on what gluten is and why you should definitely eliminate all traces of it from your nutrition permanently.
Gluten from the Latin word ‘glue’… is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley, oats and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture.
Now think to yourself, if you are ingesting something that ‘rises’ and is named after ‘glue’ what good do you think it’s doing to your GI tract? There are so many health complications and diseases linked to gluten, it’s a joke – but yet you still look around and see people tucking into an iced finger bun!
Here is what we know…
Gluten inflames the hell out of your body. This is exactly why directly after my sabotaged Christmas dinner, the following day I couldn’t fit my engagement ring on my finger and my feet looked more like an oompa loompa on heat than lovely dainty feet. Apart from that, here are just a few of many top reasons why you should avoid gluten:
- It can kills brain cells
- Is linked to osteoarthritis
- Decreases thyroid function
- Promotes premature aging
- Helps in the development of celiac disease
So it is safe to say if these reasons are not screaming at you right now to put that tuna wrap down, then all you fitness fanatics should remember this as well – gluten heavily impacts on your body composition. I.e. it can make you fatter!
No surprise that I was watching The Biggest Loser last night and the contestant’s favourite daily foods were all GLUTEN, GLUTEN, and GLUTEN. Everywhere, the whole lot! No wonder they are all so unwell.
Now, body composition clearly isn’t as important as the rest of the life threatening reasons – however we are living in a material world and I know a lot of material girls! The bloat, puffiness, poor digestion you have – have you ruled out gluten entirely from your nutrition? And I’m not talking about almost all of it, it needs to be ALL OF IT! Because, just one molecule of gluten will hang around in your system for up to three months – yep, even if you licked that sausage roll! Do you currently have a serving of oats in the morning? Gluten is served, huh?
So what are some of the positives from switching to a GF life? Well apart from maintaining a better body composition year round, decreased inflammation and bloating (hallelujah – ladies don’t fart!), switching to gluten free will bring about a greater stabilization of energy throughout the day, along with enhanced mental clarity.
Is it a coincidence that the recent Australian Open Tennis Champion Novak Djokovic switched to a gluten free lifestyle to aid with his allergies, only to go on and win several grand slam tournaments making him world number 1 in his sport?
Novak claims that his new nutritional lifestyle gives him mental clarity, something he relies on in his sport – as it is a battle of wits and tricks as much as it is a battle of physical endurance. He also found that he utilized oxygen better within the game and his recovery times shortened therefore he was able to get back to hitting aces quicker.
Switching over to the GF side puts less stress on an athlete’s immune system and can allow for better nutrient absorption from food along with promoting better overall gut function.
So how can we be more vigilant and eradicate this little ‘bastard’ from our lives once and for all? Well I’ll give you my tips – unfortunately you have to become a little pedantic at first until you learn what is safe and what’s the enemy in the supermarket!
1. Food Labels
If something is gluten free – the label will say ‘Gluten Free’. The Australian standard of gluten free foods now requires that foods labelled as ‘gluten free’ contain no detectable gluten products. So that’s a safe bet.
Thomas Dux has a great selection of gluten free products, Coles and Woolworths have about half an aisle dedicated to it, and any other reputable organic market store will have plenty of gluten free friendly products.
2. For non-labelled foods
Well of course a cake or biscuit has flour in it (derived from wheat), so they are gluten unless it specifically says ‘gluten free’. However, there are a few tricky ones you need to check:
- Cereal products, flour, baking products
- Condiments and other flavorings, in particular sauces
- Dairy products, butter, margarine (not that anyone should be having this one either – but that’s another story) & oils
- Soups, meat, fish, poultry
- Vegetables, legumes
3. Always do the following on your checklist
- Read the labels and watch for hidden sources of gluten
- Include a wide variety of gluten free products in your fridge and pantry
- Always check that medications and vitamins are Gluten Free – like the Poliquin range – all gluten free.
So in summary, if you want to live a long, healthy and lean life – you should start with the G word and eradicate it from your life forever – you won’t miss it trust me!