Do You Really Need to Eat Gluten Free?

9 Tips For Transitioning To A Gluten Free Diet - And When You May Not Need To

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

What is Gluten?

Almost everyone today is aware of gluten. In case you’re not, gluten is a name for the two proteins — gliadin and glutenin — found in certain grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. (It is the gliadin protein that people react to negatively.)

Gluten is literally the “glue” that holds food together. It is found in many foods such as bread and other baked goods, soups, pasta, cereal, sauces and salad dressings.  Gluten can even be found in your toothpaste and medications! My general rule of thumb: If it’s packaged, it probably contains gluten! 

If you are one of the many people who has jumped on the gluten-free food trend, you may think you are eating healthier.  And you probably are. In many ways going gluten-free is healthier, especially if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, which is more common than you might think, and can cause a spectrum of symptoms that make you feel unwell.

So, if you are wondering whether you have a gluten sensitivity, or you’re not sure if a gluten-free lifestyle is good for you, or if you have struggled with going gluten free and haven’t fully been able to give it up, here is some information that may help you make your decision and stay on track.

Is Going Gluten Free Right for You?

Certainly, if you are one of the 1%-2% of people who have Celiac disease, you should avoid gluten. If you think you may have Celiac disease but are unsure, you should be tested.

Not all people with Celiac disease have abdominal symptoms.  In fact, many more have vague symptoms such as fatigue or anemia. Celiac disease is considered to be an autoimmune disease and celiac patients seem to be at increased risk for other autoimmune diseases including Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Type 1 diabetes, Multiples Sclerosis and more.

Gluten sensitivity (or gluten intolerance) has become much more common lately and for people who truly have a sensitivity to gluten, it can also have serious consequences. While there is no medical definition for gluten sensitivity, it basically means that you have some sort of adverse reaction to gluten and if you stop eating it, your symptoms improve.  Unfortunately, there is no clear way of diagnosing gluten sensitivity.  You just need to stop eating it for a while and see how you feel on a gluten-free diet.

I have found that the best ways to determine if you have an issue with gluten (or any food) is to do an elimination diet.  This means you take all gluten-containing foods out of your diet for 4 weeks.  (The longer you can avoid gluten the better because gluten is a very large protein and it can take months and even years to clear from your system.)  After you have eliminated gluten from your diet for a period of time, you can try to reintroduce it. If you notice that your symptoms come back, or that other symptoms arise, then you may have a gluten sensitivity.

Gluten Intolerance And Celiac Symptoms

Here are some of the symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity:

  • Digestive Issues (bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, and constipation, especially in children)
  • Rashes such as Keratosis Pilaris (chicken skin on the backs of your arms)
  • Leaky Gut
  • Trouble Walking, Clumsiness, Loss of Coordination
  • Slurred Speech, Trouble Swallowing
  • Numbness and Tingling
  • Joint Pain, Arthritis
  • Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility
  • Depression, Anxiety
  • Brain Fog
  • Visual and Auditory Problems
  • Chronic Headaches or Migraines
  • Learning Disorders
  • Developmental Delay
  • Seizures
  • Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Lupus, Dermatomyositis, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple Sclerosis

If you have any of these symptoms, it may be time to say goodbye to gluten.

In addition, several studies show that some brain disorders, such as schizophrenia, autism, and epilepsy, may respond well to a gluten-free diet. Finally, there are many people who believe that wheat may be addictive, and even some studies suggesting that gluten has addictive properties. If you have unusual cravings for wheat this may be a symptom of “gluten addiction.”

Gluten and Your Thyroid

There is definitely a connection between thyroid disease and gluten sensitivity. With so many women at mid-life being diagnosed with thyroid disorders, and many others – including young women and even children — who go undiagnosed, it is important to consider that gluten may be a factor. In fact, a friend of mine recently told me that when she stopped eating gluten she had to cut way back on her thyroid medications, especially T3 as her body started to convert T4 to T3 again!

One reason gluten may cause or worsen thyroid conditions is that the structure of gliadin resembles that of the thyroid gland. Another reason may be related to leaky gut. When gluten particles leak into the bloodstream your immune system mounts an attack on them by creating antibodies to gluten.  Since the gluten particles resemble your thyroid, those same gluten antibodies also attack your thyroid tissue. 

9 Tips for Going Gluten-Free

The gluten-free food industry has exploded. But, the average gluten-free diet is built on the same foundation as the Standard American Diet (SAD)! The biggest problem with foods labeled “gluten-free” is the reliance on highly processed ingredients such as cereal grains, soy, industrial seed oils, and sugar, which are low in nutrients and high in toxins.

In fact, many processed gluten-free foods are loaded with higher concentrations of these toxins than their original, gluten-containing counterparts!

This may make switching to a gluten-free diet seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be.  In fact, once you understand that eliminating gluten from your diet is not about replacing the foods you used to eat with their packaged, gluten-free versions, it becomes relatively easy.

Here are my tips to help you transition to a gluten-free diet:

  1. Shop The Perimeter of The Grocery Store. I have always advised this because the healthy foods are located in the perimeter of the store and that includes gluten-free foods.  So stock up on fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and eggs among others.
  2. Learn To Read Labels. When buying packaged foods, it’s important to understand what they contain.  Foods that include wheat, rye, spelt, barley, or kamut contain gluten. Also, look for words like “spices,” “flavoring,” “modified food starch,” “maltodextrin,” “glucose syrup,” and “citric acid.” These all contain gluten.  Be sure to read the ingredients list and also the “contains” section of food labels. Remember, the words “gluten-free” don’t necessarily mean the food is healthy. These foods are often low in nutrients such as fiber, iron, calcium, and B12.
  3. Choose Gluten-free Grains Carefully. Many people who go gluten-free do well with alternative grains such as quinoa, teff, buckwheat, millet or tapioca. However, others do better to remove all grains for a period of time and then introduce these gluten-free grains one by one.  The reason is that some people can be cross-reactive to certain grains and their symptoms will not resolve until they remove all grains, at least temporarily. And remember, while oats are gluten-free they are often cross-contaminated during processing.  If you want to try oats, look for oats with a gluten-free label.
  4. Avoid Packaged Sauces and Dressings. In addition to all of the added sugar, sauces, condiments and salad dressings contain gluten (like soy sauce!).  Making your own sauces and dressings can be one of the easiest ways to create healthier meals.
  5. Have Fun In The Kitchen. Cooking healthy meals can be a time to have fun and try new things. There are many great websites with gluten-free recipes. There are also cookbooks.  Start with two or three easy meals at first.  Once you feel comfortable, move of to more challenging or time-consuming recipes. You may even want to try baking your own gluten-free breads. There are many fun kitchen gadgets that can make gluten-free cooking fun for the family. Try spiralizing zucchini and other vegetables to make to healthy pastas, or invest in a bread maker and learn to make artisanal breads.
  6. Download Gluten-free Apps. There are many gluten-free apps available that can help you answer questions when you are on the go.  Downloading apps that help with grocery shopping or choosing restaurants or meals when eating out can be time-savers while you are adjusting to your new lifestyle.
  7. Lay Off The Gluten-free Sweets. Gluten-free cakes and cookies often contain very high glycemic starches such as potato starch and tapioca that can spike blood sugar even more than the standard varieties of baked goods.
  8. Get Support. Enlisting support is always a good idea when embarking on any diet or lifestyle change.  This can help keep you motivated and feeling positive.  Your support group can be a couple of friends who are going gluten-free with you.  You could also join a support group online.  Or try signing up for gluten-free cooking classes as a great way to meet new friends and share your gluten-free lifestyle. Finally, there are plenty of books, magazines and websites devoted to making going gluten-free easier.
  9. Be Kind to Yourself. Remember, you are making a lifestyle change. There will be bumps in the road. For example, some people may experience withdrawal symptoms for days or even weeks after giving up gluten. As with other elimination diets, this could include headaches, fatigue, depression, and cravings. These withdrawal symptoms will resolve, and your gluten-related symptoms will resolve after time as well. In the meantime, treat yourself kindly.  Take time to meditate, go for walks, or take a detox bath. If your symptoms don’t resolve after several months, they may not be related to gluten. Be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner.

When Going Gluten Free May Not Be Necessary

Now, There is a good possibility that gluten is not causing your problems. I believe that one of the reasons why so many people have become wheat intolerant is not the gluten, per se, but the fact that we have lost our ability to digest it.  And, we have been eating far too many refined foods.  

In truth, the current varieties of wheat haven’t changed much since the 1860’s according to an article published in Top Crop Manager West in October 2017. And, there is no such thing as GMO wheat thank goodness! A recent study published in the journal Gastroenterology (Gastroenterology, 2017; 152: S45) found that it was the fructans in wheat that caused digestive problems, not the gluten.  Fructans are types of sugar molecules found in wheat and some other grains. When researchers removed the fructans from grains but kept the gluten, study subjects did not get the bloating and digestive upsets that they usually experienced.  And, here’s one more thing to be thankful for: the bacteria in sourdough bread digests the fructans and so there are no sugars to cause digestive problems. Hence, many people have no problem digesting this type of bread.

My colleague, John Douillard, DC, CAP is an Ayurveda expert and helps many patients introduce wheat back into their diets. On his website, he cites a number of studies showing that refined grains are the problem, not whole wheat. In fact, whole wheat has been linked to lower dietary inflammation, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease in studies. But, diets lacking in whole grains can actually compromise your immune system and put you at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. That said, some people who are not celiac (ref to celiac disease vs celiac?) do not feel well when they eat gluten-containing foods. John Douillard tells you the reasons for this and how you can retrain your body to digest wheat (and even dairy!) in his book Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically Proven Approach to Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back into Your Diet.

If you’re not celiac, here are some ways to tell if you might be able to reintroduce wheat:

    1. You are able to eat bread when abroad. In Europe bread is typically made in local bakeries without any preservatives. The only ingredients are wheat, salt and water.
    2. You are able to eat wheat-containing foods when you are relaxed. When we are on vacation, we are relaxed. It is much easier to digest all food when we are in a parasympathetic “rest and digest” state.
    3. You seem to be able to eat bread “sometimes.” Believe it or not, eating wheat in season can help with your ability to digest it because your body produces more digestive enzymes, including amylase, during the winter months, making it easier to digest fall-harvested wheat. Low levels of amylase are linked to wheat allergies and “baker’s asthma.” This is more likely when you eat wheat out of season, such as in spring or summer.
    4. You can stomach wheat certain times of the day. Your gut bacteria changes throughout the day and in response to your lifestyle.. Stressors can disrupt your circadian rhythms and therefore your gut bacteria making it more difficult to digest wheat. For example, if you work late at night and then try to eat a heavy gluten-containing meal, you may have a difficult time digesting it. However, you may be able to digest that same meal earlier in the day. Remember, regular sleep habits are linked to optimal health – including better digestion.
    5. You only eat processed wheat. Bread that you find on the supermarket shelves is highly processed and contains toxins, such as glyphosate (Round Up), which kill off digestive bacteria. Try fresh bakery bread, especially sour dough bread.

If any of these points resonate with you, you may want to give your digestive system a reboot and then try to reintroduce wheat. John Douillard recommends eating an Ayurvedic superfood called kitchari, which is made from watered-down rice and mung beans, to soothe your intestinal skin and start the repair process. Other “repair” foods he recommends include:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cooked beets
  • Cooked apples
  • Seeds (rather than nuts)
  • Well-cooked or steamed vegetables
  • Oatmeal, rice, quinoa, and millet
  • Small, well-cooked beans and legumes (like mung beans)
  • Healthy oils like ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil
  • Small amounts of well-cooked white meats or fish
  • Small amounts of raw honey (1–2 teaspoons per day)
  • Ginger, cinnamon, fennel, and cardamom tea
  • Small amounts of organic fermented foods added to each meal, (Yogurt, Kimchi, Miso, Fermented vegetables, real pickles, etc.

Are you gluten-free? Have you ever tried to reintroduce wheat into your diet? Please share your gluten-free journey and lifestyle tips with me in the comments section below.

 

Last Updated: May 7, 2018

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.

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  1. Victoria
    5 months ago

    I went gluten free last summer ‘17 when I was diagnosed with Lyme disease (you did not have that listed). What a difference it made in my life!! I also have fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I started to lose weight and from June ‘17 to Dec ‘17 I lost 23 lbs & I was not dieting, I was eating healthy! And my asthma also improved! I was coughing a lot when I was eating wheat crackers. My coughing slowed down a lot as I removed the wheat. One night I decided to eat the wheat crackers and I immediately began to start coughing that I had to use my asthma rescue inhaler to stop (I got pretty scared). I have never eaten wheat crackers again. My coughing is gone now, it took about 9 months.
    I do have IBS and Diverticulitis, which also have become much better managed since I’m gluten free. And a year later, I have not gained any weight back. My Mind, Body, and Spirit feel so much healthier.

  2. Ernalee
    5 months ago

    Thank you for your article. One thing I wonder about is your statement that some people who travel to Europe can eat wheat there but not at home. You make the correlation that it is the lack of preservatives that may be the culprit. I’ve talked to a couple who were surprised that the wife could eat wheat in Europe and wondered why. It turns out that the bakery they frequented still used an ‘old’ wheat as it used to be before it had been mutated for the purpose of creating taller, hardier stalks of wheat – which also happened to increase the gluten content. What is being grown as wheat in the US is nowhere near the same what that the pioneers ate long ago.

  3. Catherine
    5 months ago

    Many people may not realize that there are actually a LOT of foods that can be problematic. My doctor put me on her “elimination diet” where I had to eliminate gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts, pistachios, cashews, nightshade vegetables (potatoes, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes), shellfish, mackerel, GMOs, and non-grassfed beef. I was on this diet for six weeks. After the six weeks, I could have ONE of the above foods, then wait for 3-6 days to see if there was a reaction. Then I could add another, etc., etc., etc. I would NEVER have guessed the one problem food! It was nightshade vegetables. I was fine with all the other foods listed.

  4. Kelli
    5 months ago

    I am not aware of why glyphosate would be in store bought bread. This herbicide is not used in wheat production for weed control. I am an agronomist and have never once seen a farmer use this product in wheat production in 20 years.

    1. Lorrie
      4 months ago

      From what I have been reading recently, glyphosate is now being promoted by its manufacturer, Monsanto, and used by growers as a desiccant on our crops just before harvest to dry them more quickly in preparation for harvest. This drying-out process happens slowly in the field if left to nature before crops can be harvested, but using glyphosate to kill the mature plants more quickly allows farmers to harvest sooner and clear the fields before the onset of late season bad weather. I’ve read a couple of other reasons it is being used late in the growing season on non-GMO crops, as well. Google it to learn more.

      Basically, we are being poisoned with glyphosate in our food supply in ever-increasing ways and the only way to reduce it making its way into our bodies is to eat organic.

  5. Melinda Vale
    5 months ago

    I love reading your articles Dr. Northrup. Thank you for sharing your expertise and spreading the ideas about what truly is ‘normal’ and healthy as we age and grow.

    You mention in your article “there is no such thing as GMO wheat thank goodness” but that does not mean that wheat isn’t treated with conventional herbicides such as Roundup(TM) – also mentioned by a previous commenter, Sarah Dedman. Instructions that come with this product include treating your (non-GMO) conventional crops with it to both fight weeds and ensure a more uniform seed-head size. For this reason it would be great to include in your recommendations that those of us who chose to continue eating wheat check for ‘organic’ on the label as well. It doesn’t guarantee that there will be no herbicides (they can be carried on the wind from a conventional farm to a neighbouring organic farm), but it reduces the exposure as much as possible.

    Thank you for providing the opportunity to submit comments.

  6. Therese Yonikus
    5 months ago

    This is a great article. I have been gluten freelance 1999. Recently I heard John Robins talk about Ezekiel Bread and how is is made from the wheat berries and not flour. It is also prepared with full fermentation time and baked slowly. He said that most of the commercial bread is made by quick rising and fast baking which contributes to the higher gluten content.
    Anyway, after avoiding wheat for so long I decided to try the Ezekiel Bread 4:9 and I did fine – no reactions.
    I only eat it once in awhile and enjoy it!!!
    Therese

    1. Catherine
      5 months ago

      I think you might have some of that information incorrectly. From Wikipedia: “A wheat berry, or wheatberry, is a whole wheat kernel, composed of the bran, germ, and endosperm.” From Food for Life: “We start with whole, certified organically grown grains, beans and seeds, and sprout them in water. Then, we take the freshly sprouted live grains and slowly mash them, mix them into dough in small batches and slowly bake into bread.”

      The term “flour” does not refer only to wheat but to any grain ground to a powder. Food for Life may not grind the grains into a fine powder, but they still mash them up. Many of the Ezekiel Bread products are NOT grain-free OR wheat-free. (Which is fine as far as I am concerned, I love Ezekiel Bread!)

      The difference is that they use the whole wheat berry instead of just the endosperm, which requires the removal of the bran and the germ. From Food for Life: “. . . unique sprouting process activates enzymes, which naturally metabolize starch, carbohydrates and gluten protein. This may explain why so many gluten sensitive people may tolerate sprouted grains. We DO offer gluten free options, which will clearly state “Gluten Free” on the packaging.”

      As I mentioned earlier, I love Ezekiel Bread. I find that if I have a digestive issue, such as loose stools, a couple of pieces of Ezekiel Bread actually fix that problem. I feel great when I eat Ezekiel Bread! (And no, I was not compensated in any way for this glowing recommendation. I just love the stuff!)

  7. Lara
    5 months ago

    Dr Norhrup I question your statement to avoid citric acid. Yes it can be made fron wheat yet it is highly processed and purified. A process that fully removes any gluten proteins. Do you have the source you researched your information about citric acid as I would like to learn more. I have had celiac disease for over 10 years and if there is more up to date research on the subject I’d like to know.

  8. Carmen
    5 months ago

    Everybody should check out what the Medical Medium has to say about gluten and about everything. Gluten feeds pathogens and viruses which are the cause of most of the health problems we have nowadays, as well as eggs, dairy, etc. He has three wonderful books and you can find all of his podcasts at medical medium.com.

  9. Merlyn Rix
    1 year ago

    Hello Dr. Northrup

    Thank you for sharing your expertise on women’s health. Many, including myself have benefitted.

    I am concerned about your statement “one of the reasons so many people are now gluten intolerant has to do with the widespread use of GMO wheat”. Please be aware that to this date there actually is no commercially approved GMO wheat in the USA.

    Looking forward to hearing from you on this.

    Thank you!!!

    1. Debra
      5 months ago

      It states in the article that currently no GMO wheat varieties. That supports your concern.

    2. Marilyn
      5 months ago

      To Merlyn Rix: Your quoted statement does not appear in Dr. Northrup’s article. She states the same thing you did: that we do not have GMO wheat.

      1. Merlyn Rix
        4 months ago

        Hello Debra and Marilyn,

        Yes, this IS confusing when you read it now!!

        Originally, Dr. Northrup was asked the question, why is there increased incidence of gluten intolerance? She answered with the statement that, it was due to the widespread use of GMO wheat. Pretty impossible when to date there is no GMO wheat!! When I contacted her about my concern re: this misinformation, she appreciated receiving the correction, and said that she would change her blog immediately. She did. You are now reading what she wrote AFTER she made the revision, in response to my communication with her.

        And that is why my comment as you read it above, doesn’t make sense. It was in response to her original message.

  10. Cheryl Edwards
    2 years ago

    I am 60 and postmenopausal. I have been grain free for 2 years and I also practice intermittent fasting. By practicing those two things, I have never felt better in my life. I look 40, I sleep well, and I have boundless energy. I laugh at people who follow low calorie diets and eat six times a day. They drag their tail and make little progress toward their health goals.
    Also my knees stopped hurting and my mind is sharp and focused. No more grains and constant eating!

    1. Sheryl
      5 months ago

      Please share more details about your intermittent fasting.

    2. Cindy
      5 months ago

      Good on you!

    3. Marilyn
      5 months ago

      I just turned 64 in human years and went gluten free in January 2016. It helped so many of my health issues, including depression, low energy, and craving for carbohydrates. I went grain-free a few months later and my energy improved again. My dental health is better, too, because the grains promote dental plaque. Congratulations, Cheryl Edwards, on your wonderful new health!

  11. Laura jucha
    2 years ago

    My husband and I went grain/ gluten free almost 2 years ago. We read Wheat belly and it makes all kind of sense as does your post. We stay away from the processed stuff, have dramatically cut our sugar…neither of us can lose a pound. He could lose 50+ and if I lost 10 I’d be thrilled although could lose more according to charts. I even exercise. The more I read the more I believe that the GMO wheat is terrible for us which is why I stay the course but why are we the only ones who can’t lose weight?

    1. Jane K
      5 months ago

      There is no GMO wheat. I am a farmer. I know this first hand. However, some, but not all, farmers spray their wheat pre-harvest with Roundup or its generic brand, to dry down their wheat. I do not. I think this should be outlawed.

  12. Ronna Berezin
    2 years ago

    An amazing experience ….listeninto you on the webinar! We are so fortunate to be able to benefit from your advice. Thx so much. I am 75 , eat mostly raw and slightly cooked vegetables and learned tonigh that gluten may be causing me neurotic hunger which is dissipating as I use Trinm Healthy Mama recipies. Also I do 2 hrs of stretching/core work and walking Every Day……. and use th Esmonde stretches additionally. Thus, I have on my own healed a baaaaad I T Band/ Trocanteric Bursitis that has plagued me for 2 years!

  13. Daphne
    2 years ago

    I have celiac disease and dermatitis herpetaformis. My oldest child is on a gluten-free diet because of behavior issues. She also is genetically predisposed. My youngest child is in a study at Mass General looking at genetics, microbiome, environment and metabolism as contributing factors in development of CD. I think it is interesting that when completing the dietary surveys I am not asked about GMOs or organic food consumption. There is a huge difference between a store bought gf muffin and a grain free, fruit sweetened muffin I make at home. My middle child will say “I’m gluten” and ask for bread. We are changing that for various reasons, adding the “chicken skin” you mention to our list. I want all my kids to be able to enjoy a healthy diet complete with gluten so they, hopefully, will avoid developing CD and its complications. I think gut health is the key. Fortunately, their pediatrician is holistically minded and is a very helpful resource!

  14. Blanca
    2 years ago

    I had been diagnosed with a wheat and milk allergy back in 2007. I went gluten-free and milk/yogurt free (I can eat hard cheeses). I developed stomach issues after a while…cramps, constipation or diarrhea. I ate tons of vegetables (soluble and insoluble fiber ones) and very little of the awful tasting gluten-free baked goods. I’m an alien and this planet’s medicine doesn’t work on me, btw. Last year I went back to eating both. Learned quickly that milk/yogurt is a NO! But, wheat is a YES! Since then I’ve had no stomach issues. I eat organic Non-GMO wheat products/flour and still eat tons of veggies. Some of us NEED wheat. Non-GMO wheat that is! We’re all different with different bodies.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      Bianca– thank you SO much for this response. It’s going to help so many. Very insightful and fascinating.

    2. Cindy
      5 months ago

      Currently there is no GMO wheat on the market. It’s currently being tested by Monsanto, so that future is coming, but there is no GMO wheat currently for purchase in any way.

  15. Jean S.
    2 years ago

    Thank you for bringing up the gluten free topic Dr. Northrup. I know you have recommended Dr. David Perlmutter’s books in other blogs. I read he New York Times best seller “Grain Brain”. What a wealth of information! He says that gluten is behind the epidemic of Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as so many other diseases. He also states what you have said many times Dr. Northrup…..that sugar is the cause of heart disease…..not fat. My husband and I quit sugar a few years ago along with soda pop. Since then we have quit dairy, wheat, soy, corn, barley, spelt and rye. His book outlines everything you should know to safeguard your overall health, especially your brain and gut which are totally related. To the degree your gut is healthy is to the degree your brain will be healthy. I just read something from Dr. Mike Dow that said that 17.1% of American adults DO NOT have brain fog which means that 82.9% of American adults have some form of brain fog. Since making our changes we no longer crave any of the stuff we gave up. We are both at our ideal weights without going “on a diet”.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      This is just so inspiring!!! thank you!!

  16. Stephie M
    2 years ago

    More symptoms I`ve gotten rid of since quitting gluten are scaly skin around the edges of my face, itchy breakouts on my scalp, cluster headaches, persistent sore throat, and ringing in my ears.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      Bravo!! Love hearing that you’re doing so well.

  17. Barb Snodgrass
    2 years ago

    Dr. Northrup, I been suffering from chronic migraines for the last 2.5 years. I wondering if gluten intolerance could cause my liver to become toxic I recently had a blood test my ALT was 65. Could my liver being so high could that cause me to have migraines everyday.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      The liver is very much involved in migraines according to Traditional Chinese medicine. I would recommend a diet with lots of dark green leafy veggies. Also eliminate all processed foods. And perhaps– if you’re up to it, try the 28 day Cleanse in the book Medical Medium by Anthony William. It consists of raw fruits and veggies. That’s IT. And it really helps the liver.

  18. Blou MacKeigan
    2 years ago

    I understand that our grains for the most part have been gmo’d . If I use organic spelt flour , am I safe from gmo. Or what flour is safe ? Can we trust anything?

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      I’d give organic flour a try and see what happens. It works very well for some. Not all. Notice the rest of the comments here.

    2. Cindy
      5 months ago

      To see what crops are GMO, we need only do a Google search. There are currently NO grains that are GMO:
      Corn (field & sweet)
      Soybeans
      Cotton
      Canola
      Alfalfa
      Sugar Beets (When you see a product that lists “sugar” in the ingredients, it is from GMO sugar beets. Best to eat Pure Cane Sugar instead)
      Papaya
      Squash
      Arctic Apple
      Innate Potato
      Aquabounty Salmon

      Arctic apples, Innate potatoes and Aquabounty Salmon have all been approved but are not yet available to consumers.

      1. Cindy
        5 months ago

        Sorry, forgot that Corn is considered a grain…

  19. Sandra
    2 years ago

    My husband and I have been primarily gluten free since last July and I cannot believe how much better we feel. I still have the odd bit but he is pretty strict. Weight control is no longer an issue and no bloating pain either. Love the feeling of gluten free.

  20. Lenni Cunningham
    2 years ago

    I was wondering if you could provide us with a good gluten free food link? Also so recipes would be nice, such as homemade ketchup and gravies and other maybe some sweet treats! Thank you for all your information and hard work.

    1. Amy
      2 years ago

      http://www.amysglutenfreepantry.com is my website 🙂 Elana’s pantry is a great recipe/lifestyle resource as well.

      Arrowroot is a great thickener for gravies. You can make a roux with butter and arrowroot and add it to chicken stock for a lovely gravy along with fresh herbs. Good luck!

      1. Christiane
        2 years ago

        Nice!! thank you Amy!

  21. Catherine G
    2 years ago

    As a post-menopausal women at 54, I thought the weight gain and increasing number of health issues were part of aging.
    I had had my thyroid out 5 years before because of multi-nodular growths. I asked my Dr. if it could be diet related but was told emphatically “no”.
    So when my eyes went blood red, I got a spreading blister-like rash, got terrible brain fog and memory decline, joint problems that felt like my bones were collapsing (Dr said impossible), I finally had enough. Started researching on line and went completely gluten free. First 3 weeks were hard as my husband continued to eat donuts, pie etc in front of me. However after those first few weeks I was no longer hungry 1 hr after dinner and I no longer had an insatiable appetite for gluten. My symptoms started clearing up after 2 weeks and over the next year I lost 35 lbs effortlessly. Did not start exercising (know I should) and did NOT eat the gluten free products at all. Having a hamburger at A&W or McDonalds, ask for lettuce around it instead of the bun. I’ve done the same for breakfast sandwiches and never have a problem.
    I have now also eliminated Corn, Soy, Canola and non-organic sugar (sugarbeets)
    as much as I can.
    Exploding & uncontrollable Diarrhea – GONE.
    Try it. You will feel amazing as your body goes back to it’s natural set point.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      This is absolutely fantastic to hear. I applaud you!! yep– now you know. That weight gain and bloating has NOTHING to do with aging.

    2. Sandra
      1 year ago

      Thank you Catherine for this inspiration. Just like you I am 56 now and though I just became menopausal a month ago and gluten free in 2007 I have still had joint problems, stomach issues, eye problems(dry and sometimes capillaries break in them), fatigue and migraines.When I first went gluten free I lost 25 lbs effortlessly but then I discovered the gluten free products and the weight is all back. Wondering if what Dr. Northrup said could be the problem- the toxins in the gluten free products. My triglycerides are horrible since starting this diet! Am also on Vitamin D supplements but can’t seem to get my levels beyond 20. My thyroid, liver and fasting glucose tests are normal.

  22. Overall, a great article. The FDA has not approved GMO wheat, but they might as well have. The GMO products are corn and soy, mainly, and the list is growing. The problem GMOs (not all are evil) work to make a plant immune to poisons made by Monsanto and some other chemical companies. That enables farmers to spray to kill weeds while the corn and soy do not die. However, the chemicals, especially Round-Up, remain in the plants and are passed on to us in our food. It may be in small amounts, but, as I understand it, the effect is cumulative and the chemicals take much longer to leave the body that it does for us to consume them. The deal with wheat is that Round-Up, the poisonous herbicide, is sprayed on wheat to kill it just prior to harvest. The wheat is easier to harvest and the crop is, for some reason, more consistent over large areas of farmland — all ripe at the same time, somehow — than if the wheat had been allowed to ripen, naturally, on the stalks. GMO crops are being planted less because the promised gains in harvest are not being achieved. This partly due to the fact that Round-Up kills the soil bacteria — the soil microbiome — that is crucial in the life of healthy plants. Monsanto’s Round-Up have been a double disaster. Growing public awareness and its failure to deliver on promises made by Monsanto are likely to greatly reduce its use, sooner or later, in the future.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      Thank you for this addition to the article. I appreciate it.

  23. Pamela
    2 years ago

    Wow! I’ve been off all grains for 2 1/2 weeks now, and I just felt the back of my arms and the bumps are gone! I didn’t know there was a correlation to gluten. Thanks for that little fact! My arms are smooooth…. 🙂

    1. Christina
      2 years ago

      Did u emiliminate dressings also ? Or just the breads , pastas , grains , etc ? I haven’t eliminated the dressings and sauces . I have those annoying bumps on my arm and would love to see them go away 😉 …

  24. Lorraine
    2 years ago

    Dr. Northrup, your blog came at a great time in my life. I have just finished reading two books (Grain Brain and Wheat Belly), and am convinced that it would be a good idea to try going gluten-free, if just to see how it makes me feel.

    Last summer my blood sugar was so high I was facing medication because of it, in addition to the medication I was already taking to lower my cholesterol. I thought, “What next?” and realized I was at a crossroads in my life.

    My first thought was to begin exercising every day, which I have been able to do because I put a stationary bike in my living room. I can either watch TV or read while I cycle for half an hour. After I lost 15 pounds, both my cholesterol and blood sugar levels dropped to normal levels, and I finally was able to get off the statins I had been on for 15 years.

    I felt so good, I was motivated to look at my diet more carefully, and deliberately choose what foods and drinks I wanted in my new, healthy life, and what foods I was ready to say good-bye to. Now I’ve lost another 5 pounds, and my only problem is trying not to lose weight too quickly. At 75, my skin probably isn’t going to bounce back quickly!

    Thanks for being an inspiration to me and millions of other women!

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      This is just fantastic. And thank you for being proof that age has very little to do with one’s state of health. It’s lifestyle.

  25. Holly
    2 years ago

    Gluten sensitivity arises when glutinous grains are not prepared properly. It is difficult for EVERYONE to digest gluten because our modern methods of preparation do not allow time for the gluten to break down before consumption. Proper methods of preparation include: soaking glutinous grains/flour in yogurt, vinegar, or lemon juice; purchasing flour made from sprouted grains or sprouting them yourself; and making/ eating bread prepared with a sour dough starter instead of yeast. Yes go gluten free if you are celiac or if one of the above methods of preparation aren’t available. Otherwise I don’t believe there is a need for everyone to renounce glutinous grains.

  26. LAURENCE KING
    2 years ago

    What a wealth of information! Thank you! I have been grain-free for 8 months now, and I have never felt better :-))

  27. Julee
    2 years ago

    I have been gluten free for 5 years and have never looked back. I healed hashimoto’s, adrenal fatigue, lost weight, gained energy, sleep like a baby and feel terrific. I have run two 1/2 marathons since then and have a very active lifestyle not to mention that I no longer have brain fog or joint pain. It was the best decision I ever made. Not too long ago I eliminated all grains from my diet and feel great! My mantra is Eat Real Food!

    1. deb
      2 years ago

      wow, thanks for sharing. I feel hopeful. I was diagnosed with hashimoto’s and was never told of the corrolation of this disease and gluten. You have inspired me to try to cure myself with eating Real Food.
      Thank you,

  28. Darlene
    2 years ago

    My partner was diagnosed with celiac dis ease about 7 years ago. We both eat gluten free. Except for a raisin bran muffin for me a few times a week.
    I notice that my digestive system works much better. Also, NO soy for me! Highly toxic!!! It affects my nervous system. Took many years to conclude that.ON MY OWN.

  29. Vanessa
    2 years ago

    Hello

    Thank you for writing this blog. My youngest daughter, 11, has been diagnosed with celiac . I have preached for years about the harm of gluten and ironically it truly hit home. As a full time Family Studies high school teacher and registered Holistic Nutritionist I am so involved in helping my daughter and other 3 children, whom are fully on board. Unfortunately, my celiac girl is still having symptoms of celiac even though we gave been rigid and I’m happy to read in your blog it could take years.

    I have read several books, talked and interviewed several Drs and make gluten free, lactose free, corn free, grain free meals to build a strong system for her and to help avoid any future autoimmune diseaeses
    I am try to write a book and I hope that one day Dr Northrup you will one day have it in your hands

    Blessings

  30. Marian Vance
    2 years ago

    I went gluten-free almost 2 years ago. Amazing difference in my IBS. Major lifestyle change for the better

  31. Robin Wineland
    2 years ago

    Absolutely love your work! Yes I was diagnosed with Celiac last August. I am 56 and probably have suffered all my life mostly symptom free of what are classic signs. As I began to read your books on menopause because I was experiencing hormone imbalance-hot flashes mainly, weight gain and sleeplessness I began my journey back to health and was diagnosed with celiac.
    My father died at the age of 59 of cancer he had been on medications most his life for bi-polar disease. I too was going down that same path. I had been on anti-depressants for 20 years. I began working with integrative medical professionals and an alternative medicine. I am a trained medical technologist though I have been working in the plant biology field for 35 years I understand alot about the body and how it functions. I had my SNP testing down to get the genetic picture and I was concerned because I have one of the MTHFR mutations. A1298C. Anyway long story short my integrative medical Dr. did follow up blood work and testing based on my SNP profile and the only thing that showed up was the Celiac disease. My husband was pretty skeptical but I totally cut it out of our diets and we both feel amazing. Eating whole foods and mostly following the Paleo diet. You don’t know how bad you feel till you start to feel better. I was plagued by arthritis getting countless steroid injections and we both thought that the fat(middle age spread) and the aches and pains were just due to old age along with the failing organs,surgeries and increase in medications-down the road our parents were going and then cancer and death! No! I read Goddess’s never Age and I was determined you are right! I am not going down that path!! I feel amazing at the age of 55 better than ever!! Changing my diet, exercising(Classical Stretch everyday with Miranda Esmond White), better sleep, decreasing stress levels with mindfulness and meditation, it’s all working. I have followed countless summits on the web “The Gut Summit”, “The Metabolism Summit”, “The Fat Summit” and the Truth about Cancer. WOW I totally believe we have been mislead and bless you and thanks to all of the people bringing this to our attention!! I love You !!!
    Sincerely Robin W.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      I always LOVE hearing about someone like you who “gets it” that we’ve been sold a bill of goods in our culture about expecting to deteriorate with increasing chronologic age. It is just a myth as you have to beautifully discovered. Thank you.

  32. Gail Cinelli
    2 years ago

    Chris,
    Thanks for this informative blog.

    Carol Bass wants to get in touch with you. She lives on Edisto Island, near Charleston and wants you to come speak at The Sophia Institute. Her email address is carolrbass@gmail.com

    Blessings to you, Gail Cinelli

  33. Susan
    2 years ago

    I am also reading Dr. Hyman’s newsletter and he is writing that unmodified potato starch is a healthy way to help clean up the gut. I have been using it for about two weeks now and my constipation is a lot better. Can you address this? I take a a tablespoon with a glass of water every morning.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      I read the same newsletter and ordered some. Makes all kinds of sense. I’m right there with you!

  34. Joanne
    2 years ago

    I have been gluten-free for years but still need to take Armour thyroid. Will I ever be able to discontinue it?

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      You might– depends on also eliminated chlorine and flouride from the water you drink. And making sure you’re getting enough iodine. Check out the books by David Brownstein

  35. Ann
    2 years ago

    I am proof that going gluten free changes a person’s life. I went gluten free and lost 137 lbs. I have kept it off for 4 years.

  36. We recently went 100% gluten free because my 13 year-old was diagnosed with celiac. Though I’ve avoided wheat off and on for years, this takes it to an entirely different level.

    Though I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me that GMO wheat *has* actually infiltrated our food supply, I believe at this point it is banned and would be sort of a rogue presence rather than the norm.

    I personally lay the blame on the excessive amount of gluten we’ve hybridized for, the way it’s an additive everywhere you look, and most importantly the way that farmers prepare wheat crops for harvest by literally *dousing* them with glyphosate, aka “Round-Up”.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      You’ve got it!

  37. Nieves
    2 years ago

    thank you for your guidance. I would like to know how to cure Hashimoto and leaky gut.

    1. Janice
      2 years ago

      To learn more about Hashimoto’s, check out Dr. Izabella Wentz who has an excellent website. She went through her own journey with H.

    2. Jodie Eisenhardt
      2 years ago

      Hi Nieves,
      There are some great resources with Ali Miller, RD. Check out this blog article relating to Hashimotos – https://www.alimillerrd.com/treatments/autoimmune-diseases/
      She has a webinar coming up on May 4th about leaky gut/gut restoration – https://www.alimillerrd.com/shop/all/webinar-test-product-2/
      Good luck to you!
      J

      1. Christiane
        2 years ago

        Thanks Jodie! it takes a village.

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