Even if you’re not a professional athlete, you can perform – and maybe even look – like one if you follow the latest trend in professional sports: a low gluten diet. Recent research has suggested that following a low-gluten diet can significantly improve performance, and therefore results.
Athletes consume high-carbohydrate foods in order to fuel the extraordinary levels of physical exertion. And most athletes have complaints about their gastrointestinal systems from time to time. They may have painful cramps and irregular bowel movements. Some have heartburn more frequently than non-athletes. They assume that having excess gas and bloating just goes with the territory. Little do they realize that their high-carbohydrate diets include large amounts of gluten, which leads to intestinal inflammation and to gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramps and bowel irregularities.
The problem with gluten is that it’s a very large and cumbersome protein that it is difficult to digest. In fact, the body doesn’t digest it completely, which irritates the lining of the intestines. This irritation brings about inflammation; most of us recognize this as an upset stomach.
In 2009, during the Le Tour de France, the Garmin-Slipstream team deliberately ate few inflammatory foods so that when they came off of challenging climbs they could recover more quickly. The diet they followed severely limited foods that contained gluten such as crackers and breads as well as pastas. However, it’s well to note here that even soy sauce can contain gluten as well as other foods that seem unlikely culprits. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye, but it’s sometimes surprising to find that these substances are used in other foods as well such as chicken soup, for instance.
It’s commonly understood nowadays that inflammation in the intestines or gastrointestinal system will get in the way of growth of muscles. It also makes the individual more likely to catch colds and viruses.
You don’t need to be an athlete to reap some benefits . . . in fact the rest of us can learn an important lesson here! Actually, foods like breads and pastas contain little of the other nutrients our bodies require to stay healthy such as fiber, antioxidants, protein, and minerals. They are aptly described as empty-calorie foods. Besides, they usually have fats and other elements that work against good health overall.
There are many nutritious foods that do help with muscle-building. In addition, they can promote leanness and a strengthened immune system. In addition, they do not adversely impact blood sugar levels.
Complete elimination of gluten is not necessary unless you have an intolerance for it or suffer from celiac disease, in which case it’s important to keep it out of your diet.
Some gluten-free foods that are also nutritious include:
- Brown rice
- Spaghetti squash
- White beans
Try a gluten-free diet or at least limit it and notice whether you experience any changes in your well-being. If you’ve had severe symptoms that seem to be diminished by your dietary changes, you should ask your doctor whether you might have celiac disease. However, even if you don’t have such a disease keep in mind . . . if lowering the intake of gluten was good for the pros in the Gamin-Slipstream Le Tour de France team, it will also be good for you.