Health & Wellness

Colorado Health & Wellness | Spring 2016

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Health and Wellness Magazine • 43 "I didn't realize I'm pretty sensitive," says Berky, now a CrossFit trainer and indoor rowing coach in Denver. "I thought it was normal to need a coffee at 3 p.m. or an antacid after a meal. Now, I feel my best. My energy, focus, and skin are better." M a n y p e o p l e a r e j u m p i n g o n the grain-free trend in recent years, especially those following the Paleo, A t k i n s , W h e a t B e l l y , o r o t h e r l o w - carbohydrate diets, says Debbie Allen, a holistic nutrition therapist with Denver Nutrition. Going grain-free can have benefits for some people, says Allen, who notes that she has been grain-free for years, along with many of her clients. But, as with any diet change, it should be done carefully, Allen and other experts say. Is Grain-Free For You? M a n y p e o p l e a r e g o i n g g r a i n - f r e e because they have allergies or sensitivities to either the grain itself or the herbicide glyphosate or other chemicals used to grow and process grains, Allen says. Allergic reactions are serious and usually involve breathing problems, whereas sensitivities can manifest as gout, arthritis, congestion, constipation, sinus problems, skin problems or even headaches. Professor Melissa Wdowik, with the Food Science and Human Nutrition department at Colorado State University, advises people to exclude wheat first. "Wheat is the most common aggravator and rarely is a person allergic/sensitive to all grains," Wdowik says. "Get tested for a wheat allergy with a skin and blood test before cutting out an entire food group," she says. "Pinpointing the source rather than completely eliminating all grains can make life more enjoyable." After testing, do an elimination diet and work with a dietician, she says. Some grains are better than others. People can usually eat quinoa, buckwheat and oats, which are also more readily available. Just be sure to look for ones that are packaged as gluten-free and organic to get a purer source, Allen says. People with wheat and gluten sensitivities usually have problems with wheat derivatives, as well as barley and rye. Bloating and brain fog were just two nuisances that a grain-free diet eliminated for Maddie Berky, who adopted the way of eating five years ago. Within two weeks of trying the Paleo diet, which also cut out dairy and legumes, the 27-year-old former athlete was hooked, her energy boosted and skin problems gone as well. GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN Experts Offer Pros and Cons of Grain-Free Dieting by Andrea Juarez Maddie Berky (Read more about fitness & nutrition on Berky's blog at Jesse Star Photography

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