Wheat, barley and rye contain the protein gluten. An intolerance to gluten may mean you suffer from celiac disease, a disorder in which gluten irritates the intestinal lining, preventing the body and digestive system from properly absorbing nutrients and water. Unlike allergies, you cannot outgrow celiac disease and must abstain from gluten by eating a gluten-free diet to avoid symptoms and potentially long-term illness. Common symptoms of gluten intolerance include bloating, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue and muscle and/or joint pain.
Gluten Detox Tips
Remove foods that contain gluten from your kitchen. Gluten exists in many unlikely foods besides grains, particularly in many prepackaged and processed foods. These include malt rice mixes, seasonings, sour cream, cheese, ice cream, meat patties, sausages, soy meat substitutes, canned soups, salad dressings, canned beans, canned vegetables, candy and chocolate drinks.
Read all food packaging labels and nutritional information. Avoid products that contain gluten, wheat, barley, rye, vital gluten, wheat starch, all-purpose flours, spelt, kamut, tabbouleh, malt, semolina, durum, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and modified food starch among others. Educate yourself on what ingredients to look for and check for clear labeling that states whether a product is gluten-free or contains gluten as an allergy warning. When in doubt, avoid the product or phone the company directly to ask.
Avoid eating foods that may tax the liver while detoxifying from gluten. This particularly applies to foods high in fats or fructose such as fruits. The liver is the major filter of the body and also metabolizes fats. Excess fat intake can slow down the process since the liver is working hard to metabolize and break down foods high in fat and sugars. This prolongs detox symptoms and symptoms of gluten intolerance such as lethargy and digestive upset. Avoid combining fruits with high protein and fatty foods since fruits digest at faster than other foods. Keep meal preparation simple. Avoid cooking with added fats such as oils. Opt for simpler cooking methods such as steaming or boiling.
Replace gluten foods with ingredients and foods that are healthy for you and your body. Fresh foods are gluten-free, unlike most processed foods that come in cans or packages. A diet built around fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins such as meat is the best place to start. If you avoid animal products, are a vegetarian or vegan, consider getting your protein from healthy natural sources such as dried beans, nuts, seeds, nut butters and dried lentils. It is best to buy your beans dried to soak and prepare on your own to avoid the additives that canned products have. Also be aware of using substitute soy products such as veggie burgers, seitan and meats as most contain soy protein or wheat starches. Tofu and tempeh may be tolerated if unprocessed and purchased in their natural form versus products such as tofurkey, but be sure to check labels to ensure there is no gluten present.
Follow a gluten detox diet for at least seven to 10 days to remove toxins from the body. Most detox diets involve eating fresh, raw foods that are free of the suspected allergen and include fresh produce with plenty of water. Record what you eat and how you felt before and after eating during each day of the detox. This should also be done a week prior to starting a detox to see what symptoms typically arose with what you ate. After the detox, gradually reintroduce foods that include gluten progressively each day and continue to write down how you feel after each meal and snack. Any symptoms such as bloating or fatigue that occur with the return of gluten-containing foods could indicate an intolerance.
Avoid foods that may contain gluten through cross-contamination. This is a specific concern with oats which are often deemed to be gluten-free. However, oats are often produced in facilities that also process wheat and wheat-related products. Check packaging labels carefully to ensure it specifically says gluten-free oats or made in a facility that also processes wheat. Cross-contamination may also occur in restaurants or in your own home. If your family eats wheat and other gluten products while you are detoxing and eliminating it, it is essential that they are aware of your needs and what you can and cannot eat. If someone else is preparing the meal, it’s your responsibility to ask for their support to ensure gluten is eliminated from the meal.