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Do all grains have gluten and can gluten affect your period?

Gluten seem to be an important topic for women who use foods to regulate menstrual cycle; however, gluten content in grains seems to be a very messy subject. ⁠In fact, many people don’t even understand what gluten really is: some say it is synonymous with grain, while others say it is a carb that makes you gain weight and causes hormonal imbalance...

But the other day, I got into especially vigorous debate with someone who claimed: "gluten is an inflammatory substance that is found in all grains and therefore women should stop eating grains".

Whole grains can actually be good for your period

Of course, as you may have guessed, that message was coming from a person who happened to be an advocate for grain-free diets. More on this later, but I'd like to point out that not only there’s no evidence suggesting that avoidance of all grains can be beneficial for women, there IS research that nutritious and delicious whole grains are essential for a healthy menstrual cycle and happy hormones!

If you want to read more about whole grains and how they can be used as foods to regulate menstrual cycle, naturally reduce PMS symptoms and support your wellness, check out my post Whole grains for a healthy menstrual cycle. But today it is all about gluten!

Can gluten affect your period?

Gluten is not inherently bad for your period. However, there are some people that react to gluten. It can be an autoimmune disease such a celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or a variety of other situations. In either case, if your body is sensitive to gluten, it will cause inflammation which will then cascade into a variety of hormonal disturbances and period problems.

From my experience, unless you have celiac disease, simply reducing gluten-containing foods in your diet (instead of removing them) seems to do the trick for the majority of women sensitive to gluten.

Do all grains have gluten?

This is where the whole mess begins and why my opponent was so confused! More than that, the term "gluten" is confusing, even for the food industry and researchers. For example, food engineer Kent Rausch (University of Illinois) says, "It’s ironic that corn protein is a great source of gluten-free protein, but everything in the milling process has the term ‘gluten’ attached to it."

How come? ⁠Well, here it is:

Grains have a part called endosperm, which contains starches and proteins. Proteins found here have certain names: 1) prolamins, 2) glutelins, 3) albumins and 4) globulins.

Technically speaking, when prolamins combine with glutelins they form a... “gluten”. So when food scientists talk about "gluten", they simply refer to this mixture of prolamins and glutelins in any grain. However, that is NOT “the gluten” that health care professionals and nutritionist are talking about. When the latter say “gluten”, they mean only those specific forms of prolamins and glutelins that come from wheat, rye and barley, because they are the ones that can cause inflammation.

So yes, my opponent was right, that all grains have “gluten”, but he was wrong with his ultimate conclusion. Because that is not “THE GLUTEN” that we need to worry about.

And so, when nutritionists say that corn, buckwheat, millet, teff, quinoa and other grains are “gluten-free”, we simply mean they are free of that one specific “the gluten”. That is it. No conspiracy or misinformation, unlike what my opponent thought.

So if you are on a gluten-free journey or looking for ways to find more foods to support and regulate menstrual cycle, steer away from wheat, rye, triticale and barley and choose a variety of other nutritious healthy grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, millet, arrowroot, amaranth, flax, teff, rice and more!

Love you all! Til next!

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