One of the questions we often hear in the paleo space is, "Do I need to go gluten (or dairy free) if I don't suffer any ill effects from those foods?" Our answer, "You don't have to do anything you don't want to!" Followed closely by the question, "How do you know they don't negatively effect you?"
Generally people tend to associate negative side effects from food with digestive issues like bloating, diarrhea or constipation but a food intolerance or reaction can expand far beyond the digestive tract. Consuming foods that we are reacting to can result in anything from brain fog, digestive issues, skin reactions, sleep problems, mood disorders, cognitive impairment, immune suppression, joint aches, hay fever symptoms and plenty more. It's also important to consider that these things don't always have immediate effects. A reaction to a food could take up to seven days post-exposure to take effect. Eating foods that your body is reacting to sets off a cascade of inflammatory reactions that can be far-reaching and last for extended periods of time.
According to Dr. Alessio Fasano, one of the leading gluten sensitivity researchers in the world and head of research at the University of Harvard Celiac Research Center, the gliadin protein in gluten causes zonulin production in the gut which is directly related to gut permeability or 'leaky gut'. This process is thought to occur in all people and the side effects of this process differ depending on the genetics of the particular person and the ability of their body to remedy that gut permeability quickly. This research suggestions that gluten causes intestinal permeability in everyone and to what effect that has depends on the specific person. However it's important to know that any degree of leaky gut will cause some inflammation.
From a real-food perspective, we believe there is far more nutrient density to be found in good quality fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat, fats than there is in a loaf of bread or pasta. In answer to the original question, "No, you don't have to go gluten free but why don't you try taking a month off the gluten and see if you notice any changes?" If you are really missing your morning smashed avo on toast when you go gluten free, don't worry, we have you covered with our Paleo Bread Mix! All of our products are 100% gluten, dairy, grain and refined sugar free to help you thrive and love your nourishing lifestyle!
Here are some of our favourite reads if you'd like some more information: