Author: JONI BISHOP
Series 5: Gluten 101
These days, gluten-free may seem like a trendy diet fad by those who want something to talk about. But facts are facts: gluten has a negative impact on our health. In this article we will explore gluten’s adverse effects on our body and how we can avoid it. Hey, even the Old Spice guy is gluten-free to maintain his lovely physique, and I don’t think we ladies are complaining about that one!
What is Gluten?
Within the last five years the word gluten has become a common part of our vernacular, yet many don’t quite understand what it means and the impact it has on our body. Gluten comes from the Latin word glue and is a plant protein found most commonly wheat. It is also found in smaller doses in barley, rye and oats. Gluten is responsible for giving dough that elasticity and stretchy texture.
In my interview with Anne Marie Colbin, the founder of the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC, she told me that for her, eating healthy means avoiding three things: dairy, sugar and gluten. Because of her, I adopted these principles and began a mission to find out why gluten was so bad! After all, I always struggled with belly bulge.
Gluten is generally harder to digest. There are a lot of theories out there about why wheat and gluten cause adverse effects on our body. But no single theory has been proven as the main cause. Some theories kicked around are:
It’s proven that the abundance of gluten in our diet today can be debilitating and lead to health problems.
According to www.mercola.com, “A study using frozen blood samples taken from Air Force recruits 50 years ago has found that intolerance of wheat gluten is four times more common today than it was in the 1950’s”.
It’s clear that either something we are doing to the wheat plant or the increase intake of wheat products is causing it to wreck havoc on our health. Gluten intolerance can lead to celiac disease, which can lead to auto immune diseases later in life. In fact, more than 2.5 million people are estimated to have celiac disease. Celiac disease is triggers an immune response and inflammation in your small intestine. The increased rate of celiac disease is proof that we’re not made to consume such vast amounts of gluten based foods.
Gluten allergy can also be responsible for the following conditions:
If you suspect gluten allergy or intolerance, I highly recommend that you get a gluten allergy test done. If you cannot afford to get the test done, try going gluten-free for one month and see if that helps to improve your health and well-being. In fact, I recommend everyone going gluten-free for two weeks and you will see the difference in your body.
The Mis-education of Wheat
According to cardiologist and renowned author of the bestseller Wheat Belly, Dr. William Davis, “Two slices of whole wheat bread raises blood sugar higher than 6 teaspoons of sugar, higher than a Snickers bar (most people are unaware that the glycemic index of whole wheat bread is among the highest of all foods).”
As I reported in my last article, Sugar: The Hidden Killer, it’s documented that sugar is the main culprit behind heart disease. For more on this topic, I strongly recommend you get a copy of Wheat Belly and read Dr. Davis’ theory. He doesn’t talk about gluten necessarily, but reveals what the food industry is hiding from you about wheat.
Celiac disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are disproportionately higher in at-risk populations. According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, an average of one out of every 133 otherwise healthy people in the United States suffers from the digestive disease known as celiac disease. Previous studies have found that this number may be as high as 1 in 33 in at-risk populations.
It’s not surprising that this number is higher in at-risk groups. In low-income neighborhoods, processed foods are abundant. One might even say fresh foods and produce are scarce. Many rely on bread as a food staple. Children are buying pizza, hoagies, and sandwiches after school because their school lunch was basically, inedible. Childhood obesity is rampant in at-risk groups and as many as 75% of children with celiac disease are overweight or obese. As a result, learning is hindered in this population because we know that celiac disease affects the brain and cognition.
How to avoid Gluten
Gluten is everywhere in our everyday lives! But it’s pretty simple, by avoiding a processed diet, you will avoid gluten in your life. Gluten isn’t found in fruits, legumes, vegetables, seafood or animal protein.
Gluten is primarily found in wheat barley, rye and oat products. But it can be hidden in ready-made soups, candy, cold cuts, and many other products. There are plenty of gluten alternatives:
FDA recognizes Gluten Free foods
Recently, the FDA did something good. They recognized the importance gluten-free by passing a law that requires food manufacturers to adhere to certain standards when using the gluten-free label. Congress has been working on this for the past nine years, and finally it’s here. Food manufacturers can no longer just slap a label on their food without adhering to strict guidelines for calling their product gluten free.
The new regulations define gluten-free as being less than 20 parts per million in a food content and now all manufacturers must adhere to this standard. The label finally has some integrity behind it.
Benefits of Being Gluten- Free
If you can’t bear to go gluten free, reducing your gluten intake by 50-75% will make a drastic difference in your health! Check out these resources that can help you with your transition:
We often fall victim to formulated marketing messages that are shoved down our throats like it’s the holy grail. But we are stewards of our own health. We must seek other information and make our own decisions. Remember, knowledge is power, conquer your health!
JoniB (@itsjonib) is a healthy foods personal chef and wellness and food sustainability expert. JoniB teaches adult and youth workshops on healthy eating and food sustainability.
About the Series:
The Ring The Alarm Series: Conquer Your Health uncovers the truth about what’s really in the food we eat.
Visit her website: www.itsjonib.com
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