If you’re wondering whether gluten is contributing to unpleasant symptoms for you, it may be time to try an experiment. Functional nutritionist Jesse Haas, CNS, LN, suggests starting with a tally of any baseline symptoms you’re hoping to evaluate (fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, depression, diarrhea, for example). Then stop eating gluten-containing foods (plus oats, which can be cross-reactive with gluten) for three months.
“I think it takes three months of elimination to fully understand gluten’s effects on your body. It takes a long time for those systemic symptoms and inflammation to resolve.”
At the end of the three-month trial, hopefully you’ll notice improved symptoms, she says. “When your energy is back, your brain is clear, your mood is stabilized, and your digestion is cool as a cucumber, then it’s time to start reintroducing.”
When reintroducing gluten, go for pure ingredients in large doses to maximize the feedback from your body, suggests Haas. Start by eating half a cup of cooked oats a few times a day for a couple of days. “Really make it clear to your body: I’m eating this thing; what are you going to say about it? Then do some self-inventory and see what you notice about your health,” Haas says. “Are those symptoms the same, a little worse, a lot worse? That will tell you whether that ingredient is tolerated by your body or not.”
Repeat the process with rye, then wheat, focusing on foods that contain only that single ingredient so you’re not mixing variables: For example, skip the cheese and sour cream on your wheat tortilla; if you react, you’ll know the cause.
What if symptoms arise upon reintroduction? “That’s where we get to decide for ourselves,” says Haas. “Now we know the consequences and we can decide if it’s worth it, and how often. That’s personalized nutrition.”
This was excerpted from “A Guide to Understanding Gluten and Gluten Sensitivity” which was published in Experience Life.
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