So, what is the deal with gluten? Is it the same as wheat? Do I HAVE to avoid it? If I avoid it, will I STARVE?
Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat and related grains. It helps breads rise and have a fluffy texture that we have all come to love. Unfortunately, it is also highly inflammatory.
You may be asking, “Why all the recent uproar about gluten? This seems to be a new problem. I don’t want to be a part of this new ‘gluten-free’ craze…”
You’re right in that we have been eating grains for a long time relative to human history, but it’s more the amount of gluten in our SAD (Standard American Diet) and the processing of the food prior to consumption that is the problem than the actual food itself.
If you think about it, we eat gluten at almost every meal! What’s for breakfast? Cereal (gluten), pancakes (gluten), waffles (gluten), toast (gluten)… Lunch? Sandwiches (gluten in the bread), hamburgers (gluten in the bun)… Dinner? Pasta (gluten), tacos (gluten in the wheat tortillas), etc…
It’s really just too much of something that is highly processed and difficult to digest. Over time, eating foods that are not easy to digest will lead to allergies and sensitivities.
People can go for YEARS without having any noticeable problem digesting gluten-laden foods. Over time, there will be some bodily changes that can happen due to gluten’s effect in our bodies. These changes can include:
- build-up of “gunk” in our digestive system, including intestines and gall bladder
- weakening of the thyroid gland
- weight gain
- skin problems (eczema, acne, skin fungus)
- bloating and gas
- joint pain, even arthritis
Q: So why is every restaurant and food in America full of gluten if it’s so bad for us???
A: $$$ — it’s a highly addictive food, it IS delicious, and it has become a very lucrative industry.
Q: Why is it so bad for us?
A: It’s bad in varying amounts depending on the person, but in general I would recommend avoiding it as much as possible because it is not digested well. Humans have only been eating wheat for about 200 years; some cultures even less than that. Maybe it’s an evolutionary process and we just don’t yet have the mechanisms to digest it well yet.
Q: What should I do for bread or pasta or cereal then?
A: At your next grocery store trip, try to look for alternatives. In general, humans don’t really need a lot of grains in our diet to be healthy. It’s a HUGE misconception that unfortunately has been propagated by our government. For my family, on the rare occasion that I cook pasta, I use rice pasta. On the rare occasion that I make toast, I use sprouted grain bread. It does contain wheat, but the sprouted kind is more easily digested since it is more of a whole food. If you are gluten intolerant, most grocery stores have a gluten-free aisle full of gluten-free foods. Just keep in mind that just because it is gluten-free does not make it a “health food!” Better yet, just stick with fresh vegetables, fruits, and protein sources.
Information is useless unless it’s followed up with ACTION!!! I hereby invite you to try going gluten-free for 21 days. We’ll call it the Gluten Free Challenge. I want to know how going gluten-free has helped you after you’ve done it.
If you have any friends who may also benefit by doing this challenge, forward this information to them or share it on facebook!