The first step is admitting you have a problem, and my time has come; I am addicted to bread. I am addicted to bread, pasta, and anything that may fall in line with these things. I also suffer from extremely dry skin, chronic fatigue, and grandiose mood swings. What do these have to do with each other? Everything. Having grain sensitivity isn’t an uncommon thing. If people knew the possible “side effects” of eating grains, they may realize how sensitive they are. This isn’t the same as the need to be gluten-free or having celiac disease. They can sometimes go hand in hand, but today, we’re just talking about grains.
Why are grains problematic for some people?
We’ve all heard about “good carbs” and “bad carbs.” This isn’t all talk, this is real. Carbohydrates break down in the body at different rates. Carbs from grains take longer to break down in the digestive system than any other carb, except for beans and legumes (gassy much?). Because they take so long to break down, you stay full longer; perk! However, grains are full of inflammatory properties that can cause many problems for people as they break down in the body. That said, these properties can actually be helpful to people with digestive problems such as IBS (think of when you have a stomach bug, and you’re advised to eat rice as it’s a “bonding agent”). So how do you know when you should eliminate grains?
Major signs of Grain Sensitivity
This is the biggest issue I have dealt with, and honestly, I’ve dealt with it my whole life. In the 90s, all this research didn’t exist about gluten and grain sensitivities, so I was raised on Wonder Bread and pasta with butter (yum). With that came dry, itchy, and overly sensitive skin, especially my scalp. I’ve seen so many dermatologists and have tried so many ointments, creams, and treatments to no avail. Until now, I didn’t realize it was related to my overly grainy diet. What is it about grains that can cause dry skin? Studies vary on this, but the main issue seems to be the inflammatory properties. Dry skin, eczema, and itchy rashes tend to be the first thing “cleared” when cutting out grains and eating enough healthy fats. Often times, gluten-free grains can cause the same skin reactions as regular grains, proving that it isn’t always about gluten and often about the grain (whoa, that was a long winded sentence).
Believe it or not, acne is almost always a reaction to something happening within your body. Teenage acne often flares up as a result of crazy hormones, and, in the same breath, so many women control their acne by taking birth control pills….again, hormones. So why wouldn’t the food you’re putting in your body affect acne? The reason for this is still closely related to hormones. When you eat high-glycemic and inflammatory foods, hormones suffer and insulin spikes, causing breakouts on your skin. Also, it’s sometimes as simple as your body rejecting what you ate. If you can digest something, the body naturally expels it either in the bathroom or through your skin! Surprised? Maybe, but it makes complete sense! Having a balanced gut can lead to healthy, glowy skin. The different systems of our bodies like to work in unison, but they need the proper fuel to do so!
Bloating and Gassiness
Many people feel extremely full and bloated after eating grains, and not just because they ate too much. This can be a sign of the digestive system not being able to break down the grains fast enough. When the sugars and starches from the grains sit in the small intestine for too long, they ferment with gut bacteria and cause gas or bloating. Removing grains can provide immediate relief to this. Not only will you be more comfortable, but you may lose some of that water weight you carry around! Win/Win, right?!
All of this said, remember that every body is different. Your dry skin might not be caused by eating grains, it could be from something else. In my experience with myself and clients, removing grains from your diet is the easiest way to see if you have a grain sensitivity. If it doesn’t help you, try removing something else from your diet. Dairy often has negative effects on people, and this could be the problem. Don’t forget to consult with your physician for a quick blood test if you have any major concerns about food sensitivities.