What is Gluten and Why is it Bad for Inflammation?
Gluten is a protein found in many grains, including wheat, rye, and barley. It is used to give bread its elasticity and texture, making it a common ingredient in many types of breads, pastries, and other baked goods. While gluten itself does not cause inflammation, studies have shown that it can worsen existing inflammation in some people. Let’s take a look at why this might be the case and how one can manage their diet to reduce inflammation caused by gluten.
What Causes Inflammation?
Inflammation occurs when your body’s immune system reacts to an external threat, such as a virus or bacteria. In response, your body produces substances called cytokines which cause your blood vessels to become dilated and release white blood cells into the affected area. This causes swelling, pain, and heat—all signs of inflammation.
How Does Gluten Cause Inflammation?
For those with sensitivities or allergies to gluten, eating foods that contain it can trigger an inflammatory response in the body. This is because the proteins found in gluten are difficult for the body to digest properly. As a result, they can irritate the gut lining and cause an immune response similar to what would happen if there was an infection present. The resulting inflammation can then lead to digestive issues such as bloating or gas as well as skin problems like eczema or acne.
Managing Your Diet
The best way to avoid any potential problems caused by gluten is simply avoiding foods that contain it altogether. This means cutting out products made with wheat flour (such as breads and pastries) as well as processed foods that may contain hidden sources of gluten (such as soy sauce). Additionally, opting for naturally gluten-free grains such as quinoa or brown rice instead of white rice or pasta can help reduce inflammation even further.
For those who suffer from chronic inflammation conditions such as Crohn’s Disease or Celiac Disease avoiding foods containing gluten may offer some relief from symptoms caused by these conditions. Even those without these conditions may find that reducing their intake of gluten helps reduce overall inflammation throughout their body due to its difficulty with digestion by the body’s systems. Understanding how food affects our bodies is key when managing chronic health conditions like inflammation so make sure you talk with your doctor if you have any questions about what changes you should make to your diet!
by Matt Hanson, Las Vegas Personal Trainer, Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Health Coach