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May 17, 2018 3 min read

Becca Wilson

Becca Wilson

Why It's Worth Trying A Gluten & Dairy-Free Lifestyle

These days it’s common for people to struggle with poor digestion. Feelings of exhaustion, bloating, constipation, and sugar cravings are usually connected to compromised digestion. 

Removing Gluten and Dairy from your day-to-day diet can support your digestive health, and in turn, leave you feeling energetic and free.

Gluten is the protein found in grains such as barley, rye and wheat.  Unfortunately, the gluten we are eating today is not the same as the gluten our ancestors ate. It has been over-processed and scientifically modified so that the protein is larger and stronger. This allows for bigger, fluffier breads and pastries.  Scientists have also figured out how to ‘deaminate’ gluten, which is a fancy way of saying gluten can now be absorbed into water easily. This is why gluten is found in nearly everything, from condiments, medications, toothpastes, and all processed foods.

As a result, we are not only eating a different type of gluten than our ancestors, but we are eating it in mass quantities. Cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner.  It’s SO easy to eat it at least three times a day.  

Gluten is also responsible for activating Zonulin in our intestines. Zonulin signals the tight junctions forming the walls of our intestines to separate, thus creating a Leaky Gut. Leaky gut is linked to all sorts of ailments and allergies, as our body’s primary defense system has been compromised.

Dairy is equally as disruptive on our digestion. It causes inflammation in a large percentage of the world’s population, either due to lactose intolerance or casein and/or whey sensitivities. Dairy is also typically full of hormones and antibiotics. 

Lactose intolerance occurs when people cannot produce the lactase enzyme, which is needed to breakdown lactose, a sugar found in milk. Approximately 70% of the world’s population stops producing lactase after they finish breastfeeding.

Many times when people drink milk they are consuming more than just milk. American dairy farmers have long been injecting cows with a scientifically engineering bovine growth hormone called rBGH to increase cow’s milk production. This forced increase in milk production often leads to an udder infection in cows called mastitis, which is then treated with heavy courses of antibiotics. In turn, these can make their way into our dairy products.

As you can see Dairy has also changed. For our ancestors dairy was a delicacy. This meant they ate it on occasion, and when they did the dairy was still rich in bacteria and enzymes. Before it's processed, dairy contains lactase needed to digest lactose. Nowadays people often consume dairy easily 3 times a day as well, cream for coffee, cheese on a bagel, milk in cereal, burger with cheese, ice cream. So people are eating more of it, unable to digest it, and it’s filled with hormones.

One last reason to decrease your gluten and dairy consumption is that both Gluten and casein contain naturally occurring opioids called casomorphins and gluteomorphins. In some individuals, eating dairy and gluten can act like morphine in the body and cause a feeling of euphoria when eaten. This is one of the reasons certain people are actually addicted to gluten and dairy and why they crave it and genuinely feel as if they have withdrawal symptoms if they don’t eat it every day.

The bright side of all of this is eating gluten and dairy-free has never been easier.  Restaurants and grocery stores are aware of these dietary needs. Packaged foods are labeled if they are gluten-free or dairy-free (be sure to read ingredients on any packaged foods though, as they are often filled with cheap ingredients with low nutritional value).

Before adopting a gluten and dairy-free diet, set yourself up for success.  It can be very helpful to do it with a friend or partner. Changing your diet can often spark a lot of emotions that need to be processed, so try hiring a coach to support you on your journey. It’s also common to feel better and then quit. Begin with a 90/10 mentality; 90% of the time, try your absolute best and 10% of the time relax and trust that its okay if you ate something that wasn’t best for you.  While some people do need to be strict with their diet (ex: celiac’s or a person with Chron’s disease), it’s most important to be patient and kind with yourself. 

Author: Becca Wilson