What is gluten and why you should know about it!

Almost everywhere you go nowadays, you hear the “gluten-free” catch-phrase, and you may be wondering what it is all about.  IS it just a fad?  Or is it real?  What is gluten?

“Gluten” is the general term for a mixture of tiny protein fragments found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt, faro, and kamut.

Why does gluten intolerance seem to be suddenly, steadily increasing?  What happened?

Today we are consuming a hybrid version of wheat that contains more gluten than traditional varieties of the same grains.  Genetically engineered, non-organic wheat accounts for the huge increase in gluten intolerance.  Dr. Alessio Fasano, medical director of the Center for Celiac* Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says “The prevalence of celiac disease in this country is soaring partly because changes in agricultural practices have increased gluten levels in crops. We are in the midst of an epidemic.”

3,500 years ago, when wheat, spelt, and barley became popular grains, they were farmed naturally, not from hybridized seeds. Modern wheat varieties have been bred to grow faster, produce bigger yields, harvest more efficiently. The downside to to this is that they contain more gluten and less nutrition –  a problem for many people.

If you are experiencing any of the following, gas, bloating, digestive cramping, painful joints, congestion, asthma, rashes, inflammation, fatigue, or exhaustion, you may want to try eliminating gluten from your diet for a month and see how you feel.  

If you feel better, than you can try adding back a little bit of wheat and see if you react. Digestion issues are often addressed and helped with our Inner Garden, a full spectrum, non- GMO probiotic culture.  If you haven’t tried it, call us or email us for a 16 oz. Bottle for $24.00 plus S/H of $9.00.  The best deal is 2-32 oz bottles for $67.00 plus S/H of $12.00. Work with your body and decide what helps you to feel your best.

There are three types of gluten-related disorders.

A wheat allergy can occur, where someone will experience congestion and respiratory issues, including asthma.  They can also have rashes and anaphylactic issues, similar to any other allergy response.  Or, one can have a gluten sensitivity.  The wheat protein antibodies don’t show up in any medical test, but people with a gluten sensitivity report that they feel better eating a gluten-free diet.  They may have rashes, inflammation, joint pain, digestion issues, bloating, gas, fatigue, and low energy that go away or improve when they eliminate gluten from their diet.

*Celiac disease is the kingpin of gluten intolerance – an autoimmune reaction to gluten that can cause severe degradation of the small intestine.  It is diagnosed through tests that show the wheat protein antibodies in the blood and visible damage to the small intestine.  Medical tests will show the gluten antibodies in the blood.

Celiac disease was once rare, afflicting approximately 1 in 2,000 people in the US. Today it is estimated that 1 out of every 133 US people has celiac disease, and 1 in 30 people have some sort of wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity.

Gluten can be hiding in many processed foods.  Before I buy something in the grocery store, I read the label to ensure the product does not contain wheat products or gluten.  When eating in a restaurant, I always let them know that I am gluten-free and ask them what my menu choices are.  I ask for sauces to be made with tapioca or corn starch, rather than flour.  While it used to be very difficult to avoid gluten when eating out, more chefs are becoming aware, so choices are increasing.

In the past, once you realized that you had a gluten intolerance, you had a restrictive diet and the gluten-free substitutions were awful and hard to find.  Today, since there are so many gluten intolerant people, you can find gluten-free bread and pasta items in almost every supermarket and certainly in every health food store.  Some gluten-free products are awful and some are delicious.

A particularly delicious baking mix is Pamela’s Baking and Pancake mix, and a wonderful bread baker is www.samisbakery.com.  If you go to their millet/flax category, you will find their gluten-free items.  I have been eating their bread for the last 5 years, and it is the only bread that I have found that acts like “real wheat” bread.  You can make a sandwich, or toast it, or make french toast.  Delicious!

You can also find many companies, like Schar, Orgrain, and others that make many gluten-free items, such as cookies, cakes, cornbread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, english muffins, lady fingers, croutons, graham crackers, “panko” bread crumbs, etc.

Tinkyada makes delicious brown rice pasta that mimics “the real thing.”  You can go to your local health store and find gluten-free mixes to bake your own cakes, breads, pizza crusts, even frozen pie crusts!  I am giving you the delicious products, but it is up to you to try available products to find out what you like.
A wonderful resource for a gluten-free/food allergy is “Living Without” magazine.  It contains recipes and information and ads for gluten-free products to help you transition into a gluten-free lifestyle that is not restrictive.  Go to www.livingwithout.com for more information.

Sources and to Learn more:


Modern Wheat “a perfect chronic poison” Video  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505269_162-57505149/modern-wheat-a-perfect-chronic-poison-doctor-says/?tag=cbsnewsSectionContent.8

www.livingwithout.com Living Without magazine, Oct/Nov 2012 issue.

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