20/02/2015 07:24 GMT | Updated 20/04/2015 06:59 BST

From Gluten to Freedom

Why I gave up Gluten


Gluten free diets seem to be all the rage these days and more than just a fad or a fashionable craze to follow, there is a more fundamental reason why going gluten-free may be the way forward for you. And perhaps you're not even aware this is something you should consider.

For me, cutting gluten out of my diet didn't seem like much of a choice, it was pretty much a necessity.

It's important to understand exactly what gluten is to understand why it can be harmful. Gluten is a protein composite found in several types of grains, including wheat, spelt, rye and barley. It consists of two proteins - gliadin and glutenin and it is the gliadin part that people react negatively to. And here's why - When flour is mixed with water, gluten forms a sticky cross-linked network of proteins, giving elastic properties to dough and allowing bread to rise when baked. The name gluten is derived from these glue-like properties and the name itself gives a clue about why we would rather not have it hanging around in our systems!

When gluten reaches the digestive tract and is exposed to the cells of the immune system, they mistakenly believe that it is coming from some sort of foreign invader, like a bacteria. In certain people who are sensitive to gluten, this causes the immune system to mount an attack against it, but it also attacks an enzyme in the cells of the digestive tract which can cause degeneration of the intestinal wall, leading to nutrient deficiencies, various digestive issues, anemia, fatigue, failure to thrive, as well as an increased risk of many serious diseases.

This was my personal experience. My symptoms included irritability, tiredness, bloating, mood swings, low energy / sluggishness and blisters which covered my hands. I eventually diagnosed that the blistering of my hands was a condition called Dermatitis Herpetiformis which is a direct reaction to the gluten I was (attempting!) to digest from my diet. Perhaps the most uncomfortable symptom of the dreaded gluten was an itching of the vaginal area which was truly unpleasant and affected my quality of life.

Cutting gluten completely from my diet has meant a completely new lease of life for me. I now feel completely transformed from my days of gluten consumption. No longer do I need to lie down in the afternoon or feel powerless over my moods caused by the foods I am eating (indeed, food should enhance your life, not interfere with it) and I have the added bonus of actually being able to fasten the top button of my jeans!

If you're suffering with any of these symptoms or feel like you're moving through your days running on half a battery, I strongly urge you to consider whether the food (gluten) you are eating is having a negative effect for you. If any of this resonates with you and you feel pulled to give it a whirl, keep me posted as I'd love to hear your experience.