My fascination with gluten, a protein found in wheat and other related products began as a Bachelor of Science student in 2009. My degree was based in food science and although an insightful and amazing experience, learning to read scientific journals and the skills to continue my learning. It certainly did little in terms of providing all the answers. We only need to look around us, the illness and food-related disease are staggering and increasing daily, the evidence is here to show us that food science is in its infancy and there is so much more to learn. This is why I love to read about ancient natural medicine such as Ayurveda, and experimenting safely trying out new foods and ways of eating, eagerly awaiting the science to catch up with the secrets already held by those living in the blue zones, that is the parts of the world where people are living the longest and healthiest lives.
Is food our natural medicine?
Even so, there are thousands upon thousands of studies demonstrating food is medicine, for example we know that each nutrient performs a function in our body, and vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols, fatty acids etc. provide us with optimal health benefits. And so we can make the educated assumption that Hippocrates was on to something all those centuries ago when he said ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’. However, he did not have the sophisticated marketing strategies to contend with. Today the understanding of human psychology possessed by large food companies supports a huge resistance to the change we need in order to move forward into optimal health.
Any good nutritionist understands we do not have the knowledge to say to you here is the optimal diet for your health and longevity. We have plenty of clues from literature, however, much of my own diet has evolved from learning from science and listening to my body, and this is why although there are many things we can all do the same, for example eating your greens, obtaining sufficient omega 3 and B12, as well consuming a good range of vegetables and fruits, drinking lots of water, sleeping well and keeping active. I believe we are each unique in how we react to specific foods, diets, and lifestyles. Confusion is easy to find as you only need to check the book shops complete with a myriad of labeled and miracle diets – weight loss programmes, each carrying a convincing argument as to why it is the optimal diet for you.
Back to gluten…
My friend was diagnosed with Coeliac in 2009 and so given the opportunity I chose to study this specific disease for my clinical studies. As I committed to the research I became hooked and I began conducting my own personal experiment. I decided to take wheat, barley, and rye out of my own diet, whilst continuing to consume a range of highly nutritious foods, I felt so good, I dropped 5 pounds in 10 days, I could think more clearly, my energy levels increased. I felt quite shocked by the difference it made and thought about the 1 in 10 who are coeliac, could I be? Surely not, I had none of the symptoms described in the literature. I wasn’t sure why I felt so good removing these products but decided to reduce my consumption of gluten-containing grains overall since then I have listened and read the writings of many functional medicine doctors, consumed articles, and studies about this protein. Although I am discussing gluten in this post, it is always important not to focus on just one thing in terms of health. Your body, mind, and soul all need to be nourished in specific ways, therefore to have one specific focus would I think be detrimental to your overall health.
As a nutritionist it is very important for me to listen to my clients needs as I want them to feel amazing, however, I am not a medical doctor and it is important that if you are on medication or feel ill whilst consuming any foods or healthy eating plans that you consult with your own GP. I can say though that in every case that a client with an autoimmune condition has committed to a gluten free diet with myself they have reported significantly improved symptoms and one longer term friend and a client has reversed any trace of ‘Rheumatoid arthritis’ from her blood, much to the dismay of her doctor.
No Pain, No Grain
Dr Peter Osborne recently published a book called ‘No pain no grain’ and discusses the whiplash effect and states that most people who follow a gluten-free diet particularly those with coeliac or suspected gluten sensitivity tend to improve when they first take out the wheat, barley, rye but pretty soon hit a plateau or begin to feel symptoms such as fatigue. Dr Osborne indicates that there are more proteins similar to gluten contained in oats, grains, and pulses that contribute to a decline in health due to malabsorption of nutrients (just as with gluten and Coeliac disease), and so he advises a 30 day plan which involves taking out foods which may cause any disruption in the healing of autoimmune conditions.
If you are frustrated that you can not find answers to your pain, you are having lots of headaches or joint pain or even feeling symptoms of anxiety or depression, you are finding it hard to lose weight or have been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. I may be able to help you. Please feel free to contact me through email – firstname.lastname@example.org or Instagram/FB: passion8nutrition
Baked sweet potato with a leek and mushroom filling
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
bake in the oven at 220 degrees celsius for approx. 45 minutes
- half a medium leek – chop
- 1 beet – peel and dice
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 200g variety of mushrooms
- a few dashes of coconut aminos
- season with Himalayan/sea salt and black pepper
whilst the sweet potato is baking in the oven, chop the veggies and place the leek and beetroot in a pan and cook on a medium heat, add the coconut amino and turmeric and a dash of water if required
cook until the leek is softened and then add the mushrooms – season and cook for 5/6 minutes until the mushrooms are just as you like them
top your baked sweet potato with the filling and a bunch of coriander and enjoy x
lots of love and health,