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Removing gluten, dairy and sugar from the diet can help heal the gut and treat a number of chronic diseases.
Eliminating gluten - found in grains like wheat, rye and barley - as well as dairy products and sugar may sound difficult or even sadistic. But, for people suffering from serious autoimmune diseases, cancer or chronic digestive disorders, removing these three culprits from the diet may lessen inflammation, help heal a вЂњleaky gutвЂќ - which occurs when the walls of the intestines become more permeable due to chronic inflammation - and promote immune system health.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is the deterioration of the membrane which separates what passes through the intestines from the rest of the body. It can be caused by pharmaceutical drugs, sugar and other toxins including a protein found in gluten called gliadin, according to Chriss Kresser, L.Ac. When large molecules travel through a permeable gut membrane, the immune system can become triggered which leads to abdominal bloating and, in some cases, can trigger autoimmune disorders.
Gluten sensitivities are thought to affect around 6 percent of the population and celiac disease - a serious autoimmune reaction to the ingestion of gluten - affects about 1 in 131 people or roughly 1 percent of the population. Removing gluten involves eliminating many grains as well as most processed foods, since they can contain hidden gluten in ingredients like caramel color, baking powder, maltodextrin, citric acid and many others, according to Dr. Amy Myers, an expert on the gluten-free diet.
Dairy is one of the most common food sensitivities. This is particularly true for people with a preexisting gluten sensitivity since it is so often accompanied by leaky gut syndrome. Even the Harvard School of Public Health does not recommend dairy as the ideal source of dietary calcium due to high levels of saturated fat and possible links to cancer - calcium can also be found in foods like dark green, leafy vegetables and legumes.
Sugar plays a direct role in impairing gut integrity through disturbing the microflora and contributing to leaky gut syndrome, according to Kresser. Sugar is also linked to a number of other serious health concerns like Type 2 diabetes and obesity, which in turn can put you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer. According to a study published in the journal вЂњPlos One,вЂќ sugar intake is directly linked to the prevalence of diabetes outside factors like obesity, sedentary lifestyle and alcohol use.
On a gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free diet you can still eat a whole host of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains like rice and quinoa, nuts, seeds and protein like cold-water fish and grass-fed meat. A diet free from processed foods makes it easy to stay away from hidden sources of gluten, dairy and sugar.