The Benefits of Being a Gluten-free Athlete

The term gluten is derived from a combination of two proteins: gliadin and glutenin found in the endosperm of the wheat, barley and rye plants. Gluten is the protein that nourishes wheat during germination from seed to plant. Most humans don’t have the enzyme necessary for breaking down gluten, resulting in a broad spectrum of adverse symptomatic reactions.  Some of the most common symptoms of a gluten-intolerance are unexplained aches, fatigue, headaches, joint or muscle pain, bloating or other digestion problems. Genetic inheritance, infections, liver function and even a summer birthday can influence gluten sensitivity. Practitioners are seeing evidence of what could potentially be called a “gluten-sensitivity epidemic”. Gluten contributes to lethargy, spikes in insulin, depression, headaches, and poor digestion.  Further research supports that a gluten-free diet can do more than resolve gastrointestinal problems; it can also reduce inflammation, increase energy and clear up mystery aches and pains Some experts suggest that gluten intolerance can affect 1 out of every 10 individuals. Being a gluten-free athlete should not negatively impact strength, endurance or training performance. Removing gluten from an athlete’s diet allows their immune system to rest and repair muscles post workout. A gluten-free diet improves gut permeability, ultimately supporting in the absorption of the nutrients imperative to optimal athletic performance.  An article titled The Gluten Free Athlete stated: Following a gluten-free diet does show similar advantages:

1. With gluten removed, the body’s immune system can rest and absorption can be restored. The body can then function at optimal levels and repair muscles more efficiently.

2. The hypoglycemic effect that results from intense exercise is minimized.

3. A gluten-free diet helps to maintain a stable blood sugar level during exercise, optimal for an increase in muscle strength and stamina