The gluten contained in wheat products can cause or contribute to digestive disorders and joint problems. If you suffer with these conditions, a wheat-free diet may be just what you need to relieve your uncomfortable symptoms. Need another reason to consider going wheatless? Kicking this food out of your eating plan can also help you drop those unwanted pounds (I thought that might get your attention).
A wheat-free diet is often confused with a gluten-free diet. Although wheat products contain gluten, these two types of diets are not the same thing. When you’re on a wheat-free diet, you simply eliminate all foods that contain wheat. When you follow a gluten-free diet, you not only give up wheat, you also eliminate barley and rye.
Digestive Problems and Wheat
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause abdominal pain, bloating, gas, changes in bowel movements and cramping. People with IBS may be constipated one minute and have diarrhea the next. The urge to have a bowel movement can get so intense sometimes that it’s hard to control. Can you imagine being stuck in traffic feeling like this?
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome vary from person to person, and they can come and go. Gluten intolerance has been shown to produce or pronounce IBS symptoms. Since gluten is found in wheat, eliminating it from your diet can help reduce the symptoms.
You don’t have to have irritable bowel syndrome for wheat to cause digestive problems. When you eat wheat, it can clog up the intestines and make digestion difficult. A wheat-free diet can promote a healthy digestive tract by allowing food to flow through easier.
Go Wheatless and Drop a Few Pounds
Wheat is found in bread, pasta, baked goods, cereal, ice cream, gravies and other processed foods. These types of foods have no nutritional value and they make it hard for you to lose weight. On top of the empty calories you get when you load up on processed wheat products, you ingest all kinds of unhealthy chemical additives.
When you boot wheat out of your diet, there’s nothing left to eat but lean meats, fish, poultry, fruits, beans, nuts, legumes and vegetables. These foods are nutrient-dense and lower in calories than processed foods. When you opt for healthier foods, you automatically reduce your caloric intake, so you have an easier time slimming down.
Lose the Wheat to Reduce Joint Pain
Gluten can hinder your body’s natural defenses against joint pain caused by osteoporosis or osteoarthritis. If you have either of these conditions, a wheat-free diet may help reduce discomfort. Also, when you suffer from joint conditions, being overweight will amplify the pain. The weight loss you experience from a wheat-free diet will take some of the pressure off of your joints and help ease pain.
When you’ve been eating wheat all of your life, the thought of eliminating it from your diet can be scary. If going wheat-free is difficult for you, take small steps. Start off by cutting your intake by half. After you do this for a while, continue to reduce the amount of wheat you eat. Before you know it, you’ll be wheat-free and on the path to better health.
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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