Based on the research I have read over the last several years, people with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, or Celiac disease improve after going gluten free, however it doesn’t always do the trick. A large percentage of individuals need to eliminate other grains too, such as rice, corn and wheat in order to feel drastically better. This was true for me as well, but it took me a long time to accept. I still struggle with eliminating corn and rice from my diet, especially because I live in Southern California with the most amazing Mexican and Sushi restaurants. It’s often difficult to resist eating some of these amazing foods, however I have learned that I will regret it later. For example, I ate tortilla chips this past weekend and on Monday I woke up swollen, my weight was up five pounds and my digestion was not optimal. I corrected my diet and drank lots of water to flush my system out and the five pounds were gone by Wednesday. I think of experiences like this as “gentle reminders” of why I eat the way I do.
There are several reasons why grains might cause intestinal problems and the cause may be different for each person. One reason might be because the grains are starches that are hard to digest therefore they remain in the gut and ferment creating gases and diarrhea. Another reason is that they are sources of fructans that is a FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides and polyols) and known to cause gastrointestinal side effects. Lastly, many of the grains are genetically modified (GMO) and all the ill health effects are unknown at this time. However, there are some studies relating GMO corn with increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) (Jacob, 2013).
If you think other grains besides gluten may be a problem for you, the best thing I know to do is try an elimination diet. This is the best way because it is FREE! Eliminate the food for at least four weeks and keep a food diary tracking your symptoms (gas, bloating, diarrhea etc). During this four week period take note if you have any digestive improvements or experience any other changes. After four weeks you can reintroduce the grain into your diet. Start the first day with a small serving size. If you experience symptoms on day one, then you should not proceed any further and keep eliminating the food. If you did not have any symptoms on day one, then double the serving size for day two. Day three, double the serving size from day two. If you do not experience any symptoms after day three, then you can keep the food in your diet. Symptoms that start on day two or three mean that you can possibly keep the food in your diet, but only in very small quantities and limited times per week. Everybody is different and it is all about discovering what works with your body. If you have any questions about an elimination diet, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacob, A. (2013). Digestive health with real food: A practical guide to an anti-inflammatory, low-irritant, nutrient-dense diet for IBS & other digestive issues. USA: Paleo Media Group, LLC.