It seems as if gluten is on the top of this year’s nutrition offenders list. Previous culprits have included hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, MSG and artificial colors and sweeteners. These remain on the questionable list and should be avoided at all costs.
But unlike the manufactured additives listed above, gluten is actually a natural protein found in wheat, barley and rye and is wreaking havoc on the intestinal tracts of millions. In fact, one out of every 133 Americans have Celiac disease (a digestive disease due to a gluten allergy) and hundreds of thousands of people suffer from a sensitivity to gluten. Symptoms include gas, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Some less obvious reactions include headaches, joint aches, depression, anxiety and fatigue. All of these symptoms are a result of an immune system response to gluten.
Since the standard American diet contains unhealthy doses of bread, pasta and cereal, it’s definitely worth examining your gluten intake and the effect it might be having on your body.
A growing number of athletes are giving up gluten to help them feel better and achieve greater results in their respective sports. Take Wimbledon winner Novak Djokovic for example. On Sunday he crushed 4 time Wimbledon winner Rafael Nadal and swears his game has massively improved since giving up gluten
While the thought of giving up gluten may be daunting, keep in mind that a number of grains are gluten free including rice, corn, sorghum, millet, quinoa, tapioca and amaranth. Oats are technically gluten free but are often processed in plants that also process wheat so the threat of cross contamination is high. If you eat oats, look for gluten-free options such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free oatmeal.
Consider going without gluten for a few weeks to see how you feel and read on to learn more about the positive effects going gluten free has had on the Wimbledon champ and other athletes.