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8 Ways Gluten May Be Affecting You

Gluten-free is no longer a trend, it's a movement. You've likely heard many health experts and celebs alike touting the benefits of going gluten-free. Why?
Nov 18, 2014 | Joy McCarthy

Gluten-free is no longer a trend, it's a movement. You've likely heard many health experts and celebs alike touting the benefits of going gluten-free. Why? Because for many people going gluten-free has a profound effect on their health and well-being and when you feel better, look better, think better it's very motivating to stay on that path of betterment!

Before I share ways gluten may be affecting you let me first preface this by saying I'm not 100% gluten-free, but I'm mostly gluten-free. I have personally benefited from eating less gluten and would never go back to eating it at every meal like I used to years ago. But the same advice goes for all foods. You can become intolerant to the foods you eat most often. Variety is the spice of life and essential for a healthy body.

Here are four ways I personally benefiting from ditching my gluten addiction.

Better BM's = bowel movements.

Heavy gluten meals make me constipated. This is the most significant area of positive change for me.

Bye-bye bloating.

Constipation leads to bloating because fecal matter hanging out in your large intestine provides a feast for yeast and bad bacteria. Eliminate regularly and effectively and you are much less likely to suffer from bloating.

Smooth skin.

Bumps on the back of my arms disappeared.

Clearer thinking.

When I used to eat a gluten-heavy meal I would almost feel fuzzy-headed and had trouble concentrating. Not fun when you haven't even had a glass of bubbly!

For those who have a severe intolerance or you are 1 in 133 people who have celiac disease, being "mostly" gluten-free is simply not an option as you need to be 100%.

If you are considering going gluten-free to see how your body responds, I highly recommend it! As mentioned above, I'm not 100% gluten-free as you may have noticed from my instagram feed. My body is able to handle some gluten proteins because I don't eat it very often. But on a day to day basis I'm mostly gluten-free and it makes a heck of a difference in my health and well-being.

Here are 8 signs gluten may be affecting you:

1. Digestive issues.

Gluten can cause a whole range of digestive symptoms everything from gas, to bloating, constipation and the opposite, diarrhea. It can even cause pain such as cramping and IBS symptoms. Receiving a diagnosis of IBS may very well be a hidden gluten intolerance.

2. Headaches or migraines.

A very common cause of migraines and headaches are food sensitivities like gluten (and dairy too).

3. Joint Pain.

Inflammation is a root cause of pain and gluten promotes inflammation for many people. I've seen countless clients and participants of the Joyous 10 Day Detox tell me they no longer have pain in their joints since removing gluten from their diet.

4. Mood changes.

Anxiety or irrational mood changes can be attributed to gluten. Foods you are sensitive to can promote the release of cortisol as food sensitivities stimulate the sympathetic nervous system mode.

5. Food addiction and/or Cravings.

According to Dr. William Davis author of Wheat Belly, gluten has peculiar appetite-stimulating effects due to the opiate-like compounds unique to wheat. This makes breads and pasta very addictive.

6. Chicken Skin.

As mentioned above, this was something I suffered from for decades! You may have tried fancy lotions and potions, dry skin brushing and nothing seems to work. Gluten can cause something called Keratosis Pilaris. This is caused by excessive production of keratin in the skin. It's harmless, but it's not pretty. 

7. Autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, MS, Rheumatoid arthritis and more. 

8. Weight gain.

Dr. Mark Hyman explains how food sensitivities make us fat in this article. Anyone who is heavier than they would like to be likely has inflammation going on. For me personally, cutting out dairy eliminating my face puffiness within a day.

I'm going to address some commonly asked questions on going gluten-free.

How long should I remove gluten-containing foods for?

Remove gluten-containing foods for a minimum of two weeks. Offending foods include the obvious suspects such as wheat, rye, oats (unless "gluten-free") and barley which are found in breads, cereals and pastas. You'll need to read the labels of all packaged foods. Track your symptoms on a food journal. You can download a food journal here. You may want to consider a food sensitivity test.

My health practitioner told me that cutting out gluten is unhealthy and I won't get any fiber. Is this true?

This is false. If you ditch gluten containing foods in favour of gluten-free ice cream sandwiches and various GF refined products then you are no better off so that above statement would then be true. However, you need to still eat plenty of plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits and enjoy gluten-free grains such as millet, brown rice, quinoa in moderation. The key is to eat "whole foods"! By the way, not everyone thrives on a diet high in grains, even when gluten-free. This is why tracking your diet on a food journal helps create awareness on how foods make you feel.

What do I eat?

There are hundreds of recipes here on Joyous Health that are gluten-free. In fact you can search using the "gluten-free" search tab for breakfasts, main dishes or whatever you heart desires! Join the Joyous 10 Day Detox and pick up a copy of my book "Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting" for delicious recipes!

I've discovered how much better I feel without gluten, what do I do now? Can I eat gluten ever again?

Everyone is different. Some people need to completely avoid it to feel their best or take a break for at least 6 months to allow the body to heal and inflammation to go down. However, that doesn't guarantee that that the next time you eat it you'll experience all the symptoms above. As I mentioned above, I can eat it occasionally without symptoms. I know if I eat it regularly my symptoms such as constipation will come back but for me, the occasional spelt crust pizza from Pizza Libretto causes no symptoms. Eating sprouted gluten breads and pastas is a wonderful option for many. You can still enjoy these foods because when wheat is sprouted is far more digestible. But again, everyone is different and you need to track your food intake and symptoms to figure out where you fall in the gluten intolerance spectrum.

The key is to listen to your body as it will always provide you with signs and symptoms when something is off. Listen carefully so you don't end up being forced to listen because it's screaming!

Do you have a questions for me about gluten? Ask in the comment section below and I will be happy to answer it for you!

Many feel that being forced not to eat gluten is a like a life in prison. I couldn't disagree with this more! When I realized that gluten was a problem for me, I was worried at first that there would be nothing for me to eat but the opposite is true! In fact, there are hundreds of gluten-free foods that are nourishing, delicious and wonderful -- come on over and look in my kitchen pantry and fridge and you'll see what I mean :)

My book Joyous Health as you might know is mostly gluten-free with the exception of a few recipes with spelt flour. As are most of the recipes here on Joyous Health.

Have a joyous day!


Nov 18, 2014 BY Joy McCarthy
Amanda B   •   November 19, 2014

I used to think I would never need to remove gluten, but I tried grain free for 21 days and felt better then ever. Gluten causes me intense headaches the following day, constipation, and gas (TMI, not really to us nutritionists!). I used to never understand the gas I had, but now I do. I do well with some grains, but I enjoy a few grain free meals each day too!


Candice   •   November 19, 2014

Can you recommend some brands of sprouted breads to look for that would be healthy?


Beth johnson   •   November 24, 2014

I have Celiac Disease and since removing gluten I have had a huge change in my health! I think that people who don't have Celiac Disease can also benefit from a gluten free diet. Once you find alternatives it's really easy!


Lisa M   •   December 17, 2014

I began replacing the gluten-containing products in my diet with other grains like quinoa, barley and oats and noticed my daily bloating disappeared. Making the change was easier than I thought!

Kate McDonald Walker   •   December 17, 2014

Julia   •   January 11, 2015

Hi Joy, My ND did a good sensitivity test on me (the one where you put drops of your blood and it is analyzed for 96 different possible food intolerances). It came back saying I have zero food intolerances. That being said I have horrible digestive issues and my MD says perhaps I have celiac disease, a gluten intolerance, or IBS. Do you think that food sensitivity test could be inaccurate? I know there is something wrong... But being told there are no sensitives really confuses me, as does the mixed messages between my ND and MD! Help!!

Joy McCarthy   •   January 11, 2015

Chris Greene   •   January 17, 2015

Ditching gluten addiction is an excellent remedy. Thank you. JOY MCCARTHY did very detailed analysis and prescribed in good manner.


Kirsten   •   June 17, 2017

Hi Joy, Was directed to you site by a coworker who knew I was looking for gluten free recopies. While I don't have an issue with gluten, my daughter certainly does. Trying to support her in her new way of living, my husband and I decided to make the switch with her. It only took me 2 days to start feeling the benefits of the change. The first thing I noticed was my leg muscles didn't feel as bloated, they actually felt more toned. Then I noticed less overall bloating and the improvements kept on coming. Less joint pain, sleeping better and I didn't go to the bathroom as much. My husband who was a big bread and pizza eater felt so much better that he has continued to remain mostly gluten free as well, and on the occasions he had pizza his IBS symptoms flared back up. We haven't bought a loaf of bread in the past 6 months and don't really miss it. I too would recommend people try a gluten free diet, the difference in how much better we feel has totally changed our outlook on what we put in our bodies.

Rachel Molenda   •   June 19, 2017

kenishia a.   •   October 21, 2017

Hey joy! Thank u for this article. I am going to try going gluten free as well to see how my body reacts to it. I have problems with different breads and a lot of other things.with the bread; if I eat wheat bread with the wheat on it, it upsets my stomach and flares up my allergies. If I eat white bread, it makes me constipated. Also cheese and dairy makes me constipated as well. What would be some good advice for me? I really enjoyed this article. It was very helpful.☺

Rachel Molenda   •   October 23, 2017

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