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Gluten is actually a composite protein, made up of the two proteins: gliadin and glutenin. It is the former, gliadin, that people with celiac (aka coeliac) disease react to.problem with glutenin (or gluten) is that when it reaches the digestive system, the cells of the body’s immune system mistakingly believe it to be a foreign invader. We know that in a good 1% of people, the body’s immune system reacts by attacking the gluten, and unfortunately the enzyme tissue transglutaminase as well. What does this mean to ? It means that lining of the intestinal wall itself is attacked, hence “leaky gut syndrome”, the introduction of partially digested food particles into the bloodstream causing further inflammation in the body.
This happens in a good 1% of people in the USA, but with so many people not formally diagnosed, the number could be much, much larger. While gluten may not be as disruptive to the body when eating in its fermented form in breads, such as sourdough, it’s important to know why there is so much controversy with gluten today. Simply speaking, because of gluten’s nature, those with celiac disease should avoid it. Check out the list of ingredients and products below to know how to recognize it.
First, it should be said that gluten isn’t just found in “Wonder Bread”. It is in wheat, spelt, barley, and rolled rye flakes. It is truly “glue”, from the Latin word gluten, meaning sticky paste. While many people associate bread and gluten as gunking up their system, it has been used for eons to give elasticity to dough, helping it rise, keep its shape, and give it its chewy texture.
Don’t think gluten is just in bread though– it is used in cosmetics, hair products, skin care, and many processed foods as well. Of course, many people don’t react badly to wheat bread simply because of the gluten. Let’s face it, bread is pan, as it is called in Spanish: the universal food, so it’s charm and ubiquity are hard to avoid.
However, it would be a mistake to think that gluten=bad=bread=wheat. There are other things to consider if you choose to have your diet filled with a lot of grains, or even carbohydrates.
First, it should be pointed out that wheat contains over 24,000 unique proteins that can trigger an immune response and inflammation. This fact isn’t taken away by whole grain versions. If anything, the whole grain breads contain more of these proteins.
Second, wheat and grains have high glycemic loads. In other words, the GI (glycemic index) on many foods can really do damage to the body and wreak havoc with insulin levels. There has never been a diabetic created on all-protein diet, however.
Third, pesticides typically used on wheat have recently been linked with autism. In fact, prominent MIT researcher Dr Stefanie Seneff has found the 99% correlation since 1990 that has been found prominent between the increase in the use of glyphosphate (ie Roundup TM) and the increase of the prevalence in autism.
Fourth, rather than being “heart healthy”, according to Journal of the American Medical Association, those with high levels of the type of cholesterol found in wheat bread (small dense LDL particles) have a 300% higher risk than others of having a heart attack. Interestingly enough, modern research into consuming animal cholesterol has not produced the same results.
Fifth, WGA (wheat germ agglutenin, found in wheat) can have direct toxic effects on most tissues in the body, including the heart and brain. This is why schizophrenia has been called “grain brain” for so many centuries. When wheats and grains were taken from a person’s diet, the person seemed to get better and better (Natasha Campbell McBride, MD, claims her son was cured of his autism partly by removing wheat from his diet, and has said she has healed many schizophrenics at her clinic with her GAPS diet).
Finally, wheat is highly addictive. How many loaves of bread have been inhaled by going on “bread and water” diets? Truly, carb queen are easier to create than protein queens. The problem is that in addition to the quick sugar high wheat provides, it also provides specific compounds that bind to the body’s morphine receptors. This is the subtle euphoria so many people experience when becoming one with a loaf of Italian bread, generously warmed and buttered. The final results is a repetitive cycle of cravings to get back the same rush– yes, for more grains.
Conclusion: Is gluten bad? There are only so many “perfect” foods or “perfect” ingredients in this world. Science and experience has consistently shown us lately, though, that wheat bread should not be consumed often in large amounts, no matter how healthy or gluten-resistant the person might be. Allergies, weight gain, arthritis, mental disorders, and heart issues are good reasons to check out other options for sandwich bread, pasta and pastries, which is honestly why our family decided to try coconut flour. Our Cookoo is free from all gluten (and of course wheat!), being produced in a dedicated coconut processing facility and is now on sale at Amazon.
What has your experience with gluten been? Does it seem more than 1% of your friends and family have issues with gluten or wheat? We’d love to know how your life has changed by staying wheat free.