Gluten-free diets are a hot topic, but they are controversial; not all fitness and nutrition experts agree that wheat is a problem. Gluten is the protein found in foods made with wheat, rye, and barley grains. Many fitness and diet experts consider whole grains part of well-rounded diet – including whole wheat, barley, and rye – as long as you are not allergic to them.
Others agree with best-selling celebrity nutrition and fitness expert, JJ Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet. She believes that gluten can make sick, tired and even help to keep you fat.
Here are JJ’s reason’s to avoid gluten:
Leaky gut and its accompanying symptoms
Gluten contains a protein with the unwieldy name of zonulin, which damages the tight junctions in your gut. Things not intended to slip through your gut wall suddenly get through, creating an immune response. Delayed reactions, which can occur hours or days later, include fatigue, bloating, and other symptoms that contribute to weight gain.
Gluten can trigger inflammation in any tissue, which is your body's way of fighting what it sees as a foreign invader. Zonulin's damage to your tight junctions also creates inflammation. Chronic inflammation is not your friend. Besides contributing to nearly every disease imaginable (including diabetes and cancer), inflammation creates a number of problems that stall fat loss, including increased levels of your stress hormone cortisol, increased fluid retention, digestive issues, and feeling sluggish, so you're more likely to lie on the couch than burn fat at the gym.
Many gluten-containing foods have a high glycemic load and raise your blood sugar. Your pancreas responds with insulin, which pulls that blood sugar down. When you constantly eat gluten foods, your cells become overloaded with insulin and eventually stop "hearing" its message to store glucose. Insulin resistance is often the result, which slams the doors to your fat cells shut and makes fat loss nearly impossible. The sugar-binding proteins called lectins in gluten can also bind to insulin receptors and trigger insulin resistance. Many gluten-containing types of bread and other foods also contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It's not just the glucose in HFCS that contributes to insulin resistance. A study in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism also linked fructose to increased insulin resistance.
A small study done on pigs, reported in the journal BMC Metabolic Disorders, showed that lectins, those sugar-binding proteins that cause insulin resistance, may also create leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that tells your brain you're full, which means you're less likely to reach for seconds. But when you become leptin resistant, your brain doesn't "hear" leptin's message to put the brakes on the buffet, putting you at risk for overeating and weight gain.
Ever find yourself uncontrollably eating a box of Wheat Thins or reaching for a third slice of buttered toast? Ironically, the foods you react to are the ones you crave most. According to Dr. Daniel Kalish, your body reacts to intolerant foods by creating addictive narcotics called opioid endorphins. Like a drug, you have a feeling of euphoria when you eat these foods, and subsequently crave them.
Blocks nutrient absorption
Some "experts" express concern that without gluten foods, people will miss out on important nutrients. I've yet to learn which nutrients they're referring to. You can get all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients you need from lean clean protein, veggies, low-glycemic fruits like berries, and starchy fiber-rich carbs like sweet potatoes and lentils. In fact, gluten can inhibit nutrient absorption. For one, gluten-triggered permeability inhibits your gut from absorbing nutrients and making Vitamin B-12. And the indigestible phytates in gluten and other whole grains are considered an anti-nutrient because they bind and make bio-unavailable important minerals like chromium, which helps balance blood sugar.
Gluten resembles your thyroid, so when immune antibodies tag gluten for removal, they also trigger antibodies against your thyroid. In other words, you increase your chances for autoimmune disease when you constantly eat gluten. "Many people have been unsuccessful at losing weight due to thyroid disease," says Dr. Alan Christianson, co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Thyroid Disease. "People with the most common type of thyroid disease have 12 times the rate of gluten intolerance as the general population does.