Once confined to only health food stores and vitamin shops, gluten-free food products are now all the rage. Not only can you conveniently find these food options in your local grocery store, but even restaurants – high end and fast food alike – can have the ability to cater to a gluten-free menu.
This is good news, especially for those folks that cannot tolerate gluten in their system. On the flip side, there are people going the route of the no gluten diet because it’s the “cool” thing to do; research has shown that people without any gluten intolerance or celiac disease actually buy more gluten-free products than those negatively affected. With a 136% growth in this food niche in less than 3 years, the gluten-free mindset is a growing evolution.
What is gluten though, and what does it do? Gluten is typically found in grains and wheat-based products, most of which are in very high supply and demand within our culture. Gluten adds a level of stickiness to our food and helps bind and hold food together.
With gluten being so prominent in so many of the food items out there today, you would think the human body would process it appropriately – however, gluten can be quite harmful to individuals with celiac disease. This disease is an autoimmune disorder, and when gluten is ingested, the lining of the small intestine is damaged. You can find a more detailed list of Celiac disease foods to avoid in our recent blog post.
Some people are also gluten-sensitive which can lead to some of the same uncomfortable symptoms without the intestinal damage.
How Long Does Gluten Stay in Your System?
Essentially, gluten doesn’t really “stay” in your body; when you remove gluten, it is eliminated. The timing of this elimination will be slightly different for everyone, as it depends on the time it takes for you to eat and digest food, and then properly expel it from your system.
For most people, this can take up to two days for the body to move food through your intestinal system…. and only you will know how frequently you have a bowel movement! How long gluten stays in the body can also correlate with your hydration levels and overall health status as well.
Your body is an amazing machine and can begin to heal any intestinal damage from the gluten almost immediately once you stop consuming it and it can be flushed out appropriately.
How Long After Going Gluten-Free Do Symptoms Go Away?
Everyone’s body will respond differently as to how long it takes for symptoms relating to gluten-intolerance go away after you stop eating gluten. For the most part, it seems as though most people begin to feel better within just a few days of switching up their nutrition plan.
Improvements with overall concentration, attention span, and short-term memory all tend to improve within a couple of weeks, as do improvements in skin conditions and digestive issues. Granted, some people, especially those who have been sick for a long time, might notice that it takes a while for symptoms to go away.
Our bodies sometimes take a while to heal, so give yourself time to rest and recuperate, and you’ll make forward progress and begin to feel better!
Side Effects of a Gluten-Free Diet
When you are incorporating a gluten-free diet into your lifestyle, you’re essentially removing items like pasta, bread, beer, pizza, and even some hidden gluten-filled items, like packaged frozen dinners that come with sauces like soy sauce or flavor packets.
You’d be surprised to find that gluten can be found in items like toothpaste and vitamins, and even some prescription medicines. Because of this, it can be extremely challenging to maintain a strict gluten-free diet, unless you are eating whole, nutrient-dense foods (i.e., straight from the ground, tree, or sea) that you know don’t contain gluten, or you’re meticulously checking labels.
Because of some of the limits on finding gluten-free food items, another side effect of a gluten-free diet is that it can be hard to maintain a well-rounded eating plan. Vitamins and minerals like calcium and fiber might be lacking in people who are eating a gluten-free diet, and iron might also be deficient as well.
Unfortunately, some of the touted and popular gluten-free foods on the market today are very high in calories and sugar, and can actually do more harm than good – a detail that should be noted, especially with people who don’t need to eliminate gluten, and are just removing it without it being a medical necessity.
Necessity vs. Optional
If you think you might have celiac disease – or are experiencing any other digestive/intestinal issues – then speak with your doctor before attempting to start a gluten-free diet. Following a strict diet to cut out gluten can be challenging, but if it can reduce or eliminate symptoms, then it can be worth it!
A doctor can also point you in the direction of correlating with a dietician or nutritionist, who can then set up a meal plan for you and help determine if you need any vitamin supplementation through your transition to a gluten-free lifestyle.
If you aren’t giving up gluten for medical reasons but would like to see what the results are after a month of being gluten-free, give it a try! You might not end up feeling drastically better (in which case, you might not even be gluten intolerant), but you might notice positive side effects like being less bloated and having more energy. Just remember to keep your focus on protein and fiber-rich foods, and consuming nutrient-dense items to round out your diet.
Go Gluten-Free Today with Beetnik
Going gluten-free doesn’t have to be a chore. All of Beetnik’s best organic frozen meals are made without gluten so you can avoid analyzing labels in the freezer aisle.
To start enjoying Beetnik’s gluten-free, certified organic meals today, visit us in a store near you!
The information in this article shall not be construed as medical or nutritional advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding any health-related decisions.