Following a gluten-free diet is a choice I made a few years ago. I did enough research and had enough knowledge about wheat and gluten and what it does to our bodies to avoid it. I didn’t do a blood test and I also just didn’t want to follow the gluten free trend going on either. In this article I want to tell you why, in my opinion after doing loads of research, I don’t think that wheat or gluten is healthy for anybody.
Yes, I did make the statement that everyone should be gluten free. Gluten is found in Barley, Rye, Oats, Wheat and Spelt. (Spells BROWS). If oats are organic, you can have them. They contain gluten because of cross-contamination that happens in factories. Now, going gluten free doesn’t mean run to the grocery store and buy every boxed or packaged gluten free product out there. I believe that many of those aren’t much healthier than their wheat counterpart. New research is saying that 1 in 3 or about 40% of our population could be gluten sensitive or intolerant. Those aren’t full blown allergies. An allergy would be called celiac disease—which is an autoimmune process affecting 1 out of 133 people.
I want to give you a history on wheat. In 1970 a man named Norman Borlaug won the Nobel Prize for his hybrid high yield dwarf wheat plant. This plant was about 2 1/2 feet shorter than ancient wheat, was stockier, yielded more wheat and was resistant to drought and fungi. In theory this sounded very appealing. The problem is that when you make a hybrid plant, you also create new properties that the parent plants didn’t have. This is where the problem began. Whenever a plant is genetically modified or crossbred—our governing bodies of food don’t do any testing on this new plant. No research is done on any hybrid or genetically modified food. Norman Borlaug was also known as “The Man Who Saved a Billion Lives” because this dwarf wheat could be sent to other countries and it could survive in bad conditions—feeding millions of people. Please don’t misunderstand me, I do believe Dr. Borlaug deserved his prize and his intentions were honorable in creating this new plant. Time has told that the result of what he created was anything but amazing. This, I believe, is where the modern day increase of gluten allergies/ sensitivities come from. Because of his crossbreeding, this dwarf wheat also contains 14 new strains of gluten. In other words, you could say it could be at least 14x more sensitive to people when they eat it. And this new dwarf wheat has taken over about 99% of our wheat today, including organic wheat. Many people have dubbed this a Franken-grain. (Think Frankenstein’s creation)
With that history lesson done, you will understand more of the background of not eating gluten? How about three more reasons?
- Gluten is extremely prevalent in our society. Think about how often you could eat gluten throughout your day: Toast or muffin for breakfast, granola bar for snack, sandwich for lunch, crackers and dip for another snack and pasta for dinner. Every time you put a food in your mouth it could contain gluten. Think back hundreds of years to when you had to grow all of your own food. Wheat takes time to grow, harvest, and grind to make bread. The amount of wheat we used to eat was little in comparison to now. Plus, that was ancient wheat and not the crossbred version that now makes up our wheat. We also used to eat a variety of grains and that variety is important in our bodies. The sheer amount of gluten we eat contributes to the sensitivity we have in our country.
- Grains contain antinutrients. Gluten is an antinutrient as well as gliadin, lectin and phytates. They act in a similar way to sandpaper in the gut. It spurs on leaky gut, bloating, gas, constipation, increased appetite and brain fog. It also could cause autoimmunity—a decreased immune response and hypothyroid. Antinutrients are excitotoxic, neurotoxic and cytotoxic. (Toxic to your nervous system, nerves and cells). You can see by eliminating gluten and reducing our overall grain consumption we can increase health.
- They are high glycemic. To be honest, all grains will cause a rise in blood sugar. But wheat is worse than an ancient grain. They have found that a piece of toast for breakfast will yield a higher blood sugar level than drinking a Pepsi for breakfast. That’s amazing because we all know that a Pepsi for breakfast isn’t the best choice. But we have been raised to believe bread, especially for breakfast, is a healthy choice. It makes you think twice.
After all of that information you may be thinking “What do I eat now?” or “What do I choose”. I have two thoughts on people eating grains. Grains can be a source of inflammation and if you have any health challenges or negative symptoms going on in your body, the best diet for you now is a grain-free diet. That excludes gluten containing grains and gluten-free grains. That will stimulate healing of the gut and healing hormone receptors on your cells. But, if you have met your health goals and are at a healthy weight, you can add some grains in your diet. My favorite grains are ancient grains: buckwheat, amaranth, millet and quinoa. Some argue that buckwheat and quinoa aren’t even grains but are a fruit or seed. These grains have not been altered by man and are the best whole grains you can consume. You can make them into flours, bake with them, or eat them whole like you would eat rice. Occasionally using a gluten-free oatmeal or brown rice would be fine too, but they just aren’t quite as pure as the ancient grains.
If you walk into the grocery store you can find a lot of gluten free foods. Buyer beware of these! They often contain loads of sugar and very high glycemic flours (white rice, potato, tapioca). Because of the contents of the boxed food, you could possibly have similar reactions and symptoms to eating wheat. Many people can’t handle eating these at all. So only use them as a very rare treat. The best thing is to bake at home. You have control over every ingredient! Almond flour, coconut flour and garbanzo bean flours are my favorite grain-free flours. I have many recipes using them on this blog.
People ask me all the time about running a blood test and the accuracy of it. The gluten or celiac blood test is very inaccurate. You have to have just the right environment in your body have a positive test. There are many false negatives and leave people discouraged and without answers. If you have a positive gluten blood test, it’s 100% positive. If you want to know if you are sensitive you can do two things. First, you can find a health practitioner who uses applied kinesiology muscle testing or nutrition response testing to see if you have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance. In my practice, as a chiropractor, I perform that testing and have found it to be very accurate. If you can’t find a practitioner to do that, the second thing you can do is try an elimination diet. Just cut it out, make a choice to do that. Get rid of the gluten and never look back. Do you feel better? Are symptoms disappearing? Cut it out 100% and for at least 3-4 weeks. It can take some time for gluten to leave our bodies. If you only eliminate gluten for 1-2 weeks you may not see any benefits or the full picture of what a gluten free lifestyle offers. Even if you did not experience negative symptoms before the gluten free diet, cutting it out can have health benefits and cut the risk of developing an issue in the future.
Getting healthy and living a healthy life is something everybody can do. I hope that my blog can help you and give you resources on your healing journey.
Do you have any negative reactions when you eat gluten?
How have you felt since cutting gluten out of your diet?
What are your favorite gluten-free foods?
. “Norman Borlaug.” Wikepedia. N.p., 28 Jan 2013. Web. 28 Jan 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Borlaug.
“Do You Have a Wheat Belly? Interview with Dr. Davis!.” Wellness Mama. N.p., n. d. Web. Web. 29 Jan. 2013. <http://wellnessmama.com/3486/do-you-have-a-wheat-belly-interview-with-dr-davis/>.
Dr. Mercola, Joseph. “Eating this can “Tear Holes” in your gut.” Mercola.com. N.p., 21 Jan 2012. Web. 28 Jan 2013. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/01/21/grains-causing-gut-leaks.asp&xgt;.