Healthy Living: The Health Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet

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Like many moms I know, I have “suffered” from an inability to lose those last 10 pounds from my pregnancy. Granted, it has been five years since the birth of my daughter, so I figured something else might be going on with my body. I really couldn't figure out why I wasn't losing my belly as most of the weight was centered there and quite honestly is considered to be the most dangerous type of fat as it affects all organs and increases triglycerides, cholesterol, diabetes risk, etc. — all health issues I was experiencing.

About two months ago, I came across a book called Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, a preventative cardiologist. Drawing on decades of clinical research and case studies with his own patients, what Dr. Davis found was truly amazing. His wheat-free approach has benefited his patients tremendously and he has seen firsthand reversal in long standing health problems. Dr. Davis talks about how today’s wheat causes blood sugar to spike more rapidly than eating pure table sugar. This spike in blood sugar we know tends to accumulate around the belly; thus, the name of his book Wheat Belly.

I decided to give his diet recommendations a try. It was tough and in the first couple days I craved sugar – in any form. When it would get bad, I would just eat some grapes to help with the cravings. Within a couple days, the sugar cravings went away and I truly started to feel so much better. And guess what? The belly that wouldn't go away no matter what exercise I did started to go away! I didn't realize that I was having a type of immune response to eating wheat and other grains.

Last year, Dr. Mark Hyman wrote an article in the Huffington Post's Healthy Living section entitled: Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You. That sounds pretty severe, but like Dr. Davis, he makes a compelling argument about eliminating all gluten from your diet for the benefit of your health. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and oats. Unfortunately, it can be found in pizza, bread, wraps, rolls, and most processed foods (ource: Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You 1/2/10).

What I found compelling in his article is a study that looked at almost 30,000 patients from 1969 to 2008 that examined deaths in three groups: those with full-blown celiac disease, those with inflammation of their intestine but not full-blown celiac disease and those with latent celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. What they found is that those with even just gluten sensitivity but no celiac disease had a 35 percent increased risk of death. He mentions that 99 percent of people who have a problem with eating gluten don’t even know it. I definitely fell in this group. I didn't realize that gluten was causing such havoc on my health!

I would recommend getting Dr. Davis' book Wheat Belly as it has recipe recommendations as well as convincing science-backed information. You will be surprised at how easy it really is to eliminate wheat from your diet. I chose to eliminate wheat first to see how it was affecting my health, and then I stopped eating grains as much as possible and looked at how I felt once all grains were eliminated. That to me is the best indicator of whether you are gluten or wheat sensitive.

Do you find that you feel better when you don’t eat wheat or other gluten rich grains? Listen to your body, it does tell you what it needs or doesn't need for that matter! After the holidays are over, it's back to a gluten-free lifestyle for me!

What are you doing to make sure you are healthy and strong? What diet or lifestyle changes have worked for you?


  • Davis, William, M.D. Wheat Belly., Rodale 2011.
  • Hyman, Mark, M.D., Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You, HUFF POST: HEALTHY LIVING., January 2. 2011.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Melissa Northway, M.S. in Human Nutrition, is a mom, writer, and her company, Polka Dots Publishing, produces children’s picture book apps.  Her first storybook app, Penelope the Purple Pirate, has been chosen as a Top 10 Educational iPad App. You can read more about Penelope here: . And follow Penelope the Purple Pirate on Facebook to learn about more giveaways for the holidays! You can reach her at: @melissanorthway and [email protected].

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