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Here’s Why You Should Consider a Gluten-Free Diet

Person turning away bread for gluten-free dietIf you’re determined to adopt a healthier lifestyle, perhaps it’s time to pay closer attention to what you eat. More specifically, to identify the foods that are doing your body more harm than good, which unsurprisingly are also the very same foods that trigger stress within your body and may even cause adrenal fatigue. For many people, gluten can be one of the main culprits triggering this condition, which is why there is a growing case for adopting a completely gluten-free diet.

What is Gluten?

According to Harvard University, gluten is a type of protein found in a number of popular grains, including wheat, rye, and barley. This may explain why gluten is typically present in a variety of common foods such as cereal, pizza, pasta, and bread.

On its own, gluten does not provide any essential nutrients for your body, therefore a significant number of people are considering removing gluten from their diets altogether. Moreover, many people claim to feel better after eating a meal without gluten.

In fact, one survey conducted by Consumer Reports found that 63 percent of Americans believe their mental or physical health would improve if they adopted a gluten-free diet. However, it should also be noted that so far, there is no compelling scientific evidence that removing gluten from your diet can significantly benefit your health if you are a normal healthy individual.

On the other hand, some people need to urgently remove gluten from their diet to improve their current health condition. For these people, gluten is associated with increased inflammation throughout the body, which can lead to a host of serious health problems.

Gluten, Inflammation, and How it Can Trigger Stress

For some people, gluten can cause serious health problems if consumed. This is especially true if you suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Stress may be reduced while on a gluten-free dietIn these cases, the consumption of gluten can trigger stress within the body resulting in the activation of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system, which is composed of six circuits, including the inflammation circuit.

If you suffer from either of these conditions and consume foods with gluten, this protein can act as a gut irritant, which, in turn, causes an inflammatory response in your body. Over time, this can lead to chronic inflammation in your gut.

At the same time, foods that contain gluten such as wheat, rye, and barley also tend to contain amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATIs), molecules responsible for pest resistance that seem to target certain proinflammatory receptors in the body. Because of this, they tend to promote significant inflammation in the intestine, which was first discovered by a study conducted at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany and Harvard Medical School. Moreover, the same conclusion has now been reached in another study on ATIs in wheat published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine in 2012.

These studies show that continuous low-grade inflammation increases the permeability of your gut lining. When this happens, junctions between the cells of your gut wall are significantly loosened leading to a leaky gut. Gluten itself can contribute to the development of a leaky gut because gluten consumption stimulates the release of a protein known as zonulin.

Zonulin is a physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions and therefore increases your gut permeability. When this happens, antigens can readily pass through your gut wall and into your bloodstream, which can further compromise your health. In fact, according to a study conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, dysregulation of zonulin has been associated with significant inflammation, as well as neoplastic and autoimmune disorders. This is why experts are now looking at zonulin as a possible biomarker for assessing leaky gut.

With a leaky gut, toxins can enter your bloodstream more easily and in the worst cases, may even lead to depression. This may explain why one study conducted by The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia found that consumption of gluten induces feelings of depression among people suffering from non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

At the same time, this type of inflammation circuit dysfunction can cause health problems such as recurring infections, viruses, GI tract disorders, autoimmune disorders, slow healing, and food sensitivities.

If you consume gluten, your digestive system will have to work much harder in order to process it. In fact, gluten can affect your bioenergetics, the process through which food is converted into energy. Your adrenal glands also play an important role in your digestive system and over time, gluten can cause your adrenals to become exhausted and worn out.

If this happens, your adrenal glands will no longer be able to perform their daily functions, such as producing enough hormones to help your body deal with stress. Over time, this can lead to significant hormonal imbalances and may even trigger Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).

Psychological Stress and Inflammation

Facing psychological stress has also been found to affect the inflammation circuit of the NEM system. According to a study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, psychological stress can readily affect your body’s ability to regulate inflammation. This is because inflammation is partly regulated by the hormone cortisol. When your adrenal glands can no longer produce enough cortisol, inflammation is allowed to persist throughout your body, unchecked.

This “runaway inflammation” can encourage the progression and development of a host of diseases. In fact, inflammation has been known to play a role in diseases like asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and various autoimmune disorders. In addition, chronic stress can alter the effectiveness of cortisol in regulating your body’s inflammatory response. Hence, your NEM stress response system itself will become compromised, resulting in hormonal imbalances that could trigger adrenal fatigue.

Thus, chronic psychological stress has also been linked to an increased risk of various infectious diseases and heart disease. At the same time, it can also lead to depression.

Best Gluten Free Foods that Support Adrenal Recovery

As you can see, gluten consumption may adversely affect certain people especially if you suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In such cases, a gluten-free diet is highly recommended to help relieve some of the harmful symptoms of gluten intolerance. In fact, a study published in the BMC Psychiatry journal in 2005 showed that a gluten-free diet may alleviate behavioral issues and depressive symptoms among those suffering from celiac disease.

Fortunately, there are various foods available that are naturally free of gluten. However, before you try anything new or making any drastic changes to your diet, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare practitioner first. It’s possible you could have an intolerance or sensitivity to some of these alternative gluten-free foods.

That being said, here are some excellent gluten-free food options that will also help promote your adrenal fatigue recovery.

Plain Yogurt

Add plain yogurt to your gluten-free dietYogurt is rich in probiotics and can therefore provide your body with a much-needed immune system boost. This, in turn, can help you recover from symptoms of adrenal fatigue much faster. However, if you are also sensitive to dairy, as is the case with many AFS sufferers, you should be wary of consuming too many milk products.

Gluten-free Meats

Fresh organic meats are generally gluten-free whether it’s lean chicken, pork, beef, lamb, or turkey. Just be sure to stay away from processed meats and ready-to-cook meats or dishes.

Gluten-free Grains

Just because you’re going on a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean you have to remove grains from your diet altogether. In fact, there are some amazing gluten-free grains to try, including the following:

  • Sorghum
  • Sorghum is a grain that is said to have originated in Africa but is now cultivated in various subtropical and tropical countries around the world. This grain is known to have a mild taste like sweet corn and what’s great about sorghum is that it’s rich in iron. In fact, half a cup of whole grain sorghum flour can provide around 25 percent of your daily recommended iron intake. Plus, sorghum is high in fiber.

    Simply cook this grain in boiling water and try it out as a hot cereal. Or mix sorghum with a bit of water and eggs to make some healthy gluten-free pancakes.

  • Quinoa
  • Today, quinoa is considered by many to be a superfood. After all, this gluten-free grain is rich in protein, fiber, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, folate, copper, iron, zinc, and potassium, as well as vitamins B2, B1, B6, B3, and E. In addition, quinoa contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggests omega 3 fatty acids could be used as a safe alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

    Quinoa has a nice, nutty taste and can easily be paired with various savory dishes for a complete meal. Moreover, quinoa can be cooked in boiling water as a nutritious hot cereal for breakfast. Or why not pick up some quinoa flour from your local health store and use it to make your own gluten free flatbread, then turn this into a grilled protein wrap or use it to scoop up some tasty hummus.

  • Buckwheat
  • A spoon full of buckwheat can be part of gluten-free dietUnlike wheat, buckwheat is completely gluten free and although classified as a fruit, buckwheat has long been cultivated as grain substitute. In fact, roasted buckwheat groats are popular among health-conscious consumers because they are rich in both fiber and iron.

    You can prepare buckwheat as a hot or cold cereal or pick up some pre-made roasted buckwheat or kasha cereal in your local supermarket or health food store.

Gluten-free Recipes for Your Adrenal Health

Now that you know about the various types of gluten-free foods you can consume to help with your adrenal fatigue recovery, it’s time to discover how you can prepare them at home so you can incorporate them into your daily meals. To help you get started, here are a number of tasty gluten-free recipes which also happen to be adrenal friendly.

Almond Zucchini Bread

Ingredients A:

  • 1 ¼ cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 ½ cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine Ingredients A in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour the mixture into a loaf tin that has been lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake for around 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing the bread from the pan. Further cool the loaf on a wire rack for an hour before slicing and serving.

A young healthy woman eating a salad and enjoying her gluten-free diet

Quinoa Beef Meatloaf

Ingredients A:

  • 1/3 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups of minced beef
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • salt
  • pepper

Ingredients B:

  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 14-oz jar chopped tomatoes
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 356 degrees F.
  2. Combine Ingredients A in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake for around 40 to 45 minutes. If the meatloaf starts to brown quickly, you can cover it with foil.
  4. While the meatloaf is baking, put Ingredients B in a pot and allow to simmer. Afterwards, blend until you get smooth sauce.
  5. Serve the sauce drizzled over the meatloaf

Try out these recipes to support your new gluten-free lifestyle and at the same time, promote better adrenal health. Both of these recipes can easily be prepared in big batches ahead of time and enjoyed throughout the week.

As you can probably tell, there are a lot of delicious alternatives to gluten that would be a great addition to your regular gluten-free diet. It’s never too late to rid your body of the inflammation and stress caused by gluten. Consider living gluten-free and you’ll soon discover your quality of life has also improved immensely.

© Copyright 2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Going on a gluten-free diet means your digestive system will no longer be forced to process gluten to the point that it becomes overworked. This means your body will no longer be chronically stressed from within, helping you avoid adrenal fatigue.

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