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Day 10: Is Gluten Free Better For You?

Hey 40DF Fam, 

Today we are addressing the question “Is gluten free better for you?”

And we are going to do exactly that, address the question, and not look to answer it in this email. We’ll save the possible drawbacks of gluten for another day. 

This type of question can, and will be asked 1,000 different ways. Just insert your food or drink of choice. “Is _____ better for you?” “Can I still drink _____?” 

Oftentimes these questions are asked in a loaded way, where the asker is secretly hoping they can continue eating or drinking these things they love. They won’t always like your response, because they were hoping for a different answer. 

I was asked this question about gluten from a friend in our “Jupiter Locals Nutrition Group” and here was my response, “If you have sensitivities to gluten (then yes it’s unhealthy). A lot of times we think, either I’m allergic or I’m not. Same thing with lactose or even peanut products, but what we don’t realize is that it’s a spectrum of sensitivity. The only way to find out if it’s unhealthy for you is to give it up completely for a month.”

The field of nutrition is so interesting because of how spectacularly different humans are from one another. This is why there are tens of thousands of diet books out there, because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all to nutrition. Our bodies and genetics are too different from one another to answer these questions in a broad manner. 

We ask, “Is gluten free better for you?” 

But what we should really be asking is, “Is gluten free better for me?”

And the ONLY person who can answer that question is YOU. 

You can read all the scientific literature of thousands of studies that have been done with millions of participants, but when it comes down to it, the MOST IMPORTANT sample size is a sample size of 1, YOU!  You are n=1. N=1 is science speak for you being the entire case study. What you eat, how your body changes, and how you feel is the most important clinical trial you can ever learn from. 

In the more than a decade that I’ve been coaching others in health and fitness, it never ceases to amaze me how often this point is overlooked. It’s almost comical how many questions people will ask in trying to get the answers they are comfortable with, without getting a little uncomfortable by attempting to give something up for 30 days. 

There is so much to learn by doing something different with your diet and monitoring the results. Hopefully your awareness of the way your body is feeling is higher as you do this challenge. You’re paying attention to how your body feels after you eat this or drink that. You are no longer a mindless eater when you’re on the path of 40 days fitter. 

In the book, “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” the authors Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Pastor Rick Warren, call attention to inflammation caused by food sensitivities. They say while most food allergies to foods lie in the single digits in percentage of population, it’s possible that 1 out of every 2 humans are affected by some type of food sensitivity. 

They write, “We have to start looking for delayed or hidden food reactions that cause inflammation. These reactions might be hard to detect. If you eat bread on Monday, you might get a migraine on Wednesday, or just generally feel bloated, or have brain fog, or gain weight and become pre-diabetic. The symptoms can be vague: fatigue, bloating, brain fog, food cravings, sinus congestion or post nasal drip, acne, eczema, psoriasis, irritable bowels, acid reflux, headaches, joint pains, trouble sleeping, asthma, and more. The food allergies we are referring to are different. They are low grade reactions that cause problems over a long period of time and lead to chronic rather than acute illnesses. These may affect up to 50 percent of the population.” 

Go back and read those symptoms again. There is a whole spectrum of inflammations that come from the wide spectrum of food sensitivities. Personally, I dealt with brain fog, acne, irritable bowels, and acid reflux. I’ll add anxiety and mood to that list as well, which notably changed when I switched what I ate. Food can fix so many things that we’re unaware of. 

So maybe gluten free is better for you. Or maybe dairy free is better for you. Or maybe alcohol free is better for you. Or maybe ______ free is better for you.

Like two football coaches on the sidelines arguing about what play they should call next, nobody truly knows which play will work until the action happens on the field. 

Don’t just be the coach on the sidelines. Be the player who has played the game and has figured out what’s better for them. And if you feel like sharing the results of your n=1 study, please do. But do it in a way that is supportive to the uniqueness of others. 

If you need a coach to help you through this process of making yourself your own case study, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help you find what works best for you. 

Stay tuned for actual info on gluten in future emails. I hope that is helpful for now. 

-Coach Tony