Flow Food Friday #234
Should I avoid gluten as an athlete?
Gluten is a glue-like protein found in most grains. Because grains are a fairly recent addition to our food supply (industrial agriculture came about only 3000-10.000years ago), our immune system does not like some of the substances found in grains. The immune system in our gut attacks these gluten molecules. And this is not good.
#1 It leads to inflammation. Inflammation is the opposite of recovery!
#2 Because the immune system is busy in the gut, it has less resources to prevent us from catching the flu or repairing our muscles and tissues.
#3 Constant immune activation leads to damage of our gut, which can lead to us not being able to absorb all the nutrients we eat -> Hard Gainers, anybody?!
#4 This overactive immune system can lead to all kinds of auto-immune disease.
Not everybody’s immune system attacks gluten. It is estimated that up 80% of Europeans have an immune response to gluten or other substances found in grains. Some people have immune systems that are adapted to grains. Their genetic history most likely stems from some of the cultures that were the first in the world to introduce agriculture, so their immune systems had a lot of time to adapt. But most of us are not „adapted“.
I advise most of my athletes to get their carbs from other sources than grains. If they have bad recovery, skin conditions, gut disorders, recurrent infections, asthma, or autoimmune disorders, or any other immune related issues I advise them to be very strictly gluten-free and initiate an individual protocol to re-balance the immune system.
May the FLOW be with you all!
Gerrit Keferstein is a Medical Doctor specialised in Performance & Functional Medicine. He is most known for his work on the optimisation of recovery and adaptation in elite athletes.