Why I Avoid Gluten
Gluten Free diets have come into vogue recently, and with all the hype around whether ‘To Eat, or Not To Eat Gluten’ I have decided to explain the reasons why I avoid gluten in my own life and in the production of Forage Cereals.
What Have We Done To Gluten?
As modern agricultural technology advanced, and the world’s population grew, so too did the demand for faster, mass-produced wheat products. In response to this, modern food engineers begun hybridizing and cross breeding wheat grains with other chemicals yielding greater harvests for less money and time cost. However this methodology came at a cost, with these new super-harvests containing up to 40% less nutrients than the original plant food according to Lead Researcher at The American College of Nutrition, Dr. Donald Davis.
Furthermore, at a time when we felt as though humans actually had time; we prepared our grains through traditional soaking, sprouting and fermentation methods, eventually slowly baking the bread using a slow raise yeast. These ancient processes are essential to the stimulation of beneficial amino acids and the neutralization of other enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients that may cause issue in the gut.
What Is Gluten?
"Gluten can be defined as the main protein compound found in wheat. And while its ancient ancestors were naturally occurring in the growth of the wheat plant what we have done to it through modern agriculture has yielded a very different compound with adverse affects."
Why Is Gluten A Problem?
Apart from being largely devoid of nutrients, wheat products containing Gluten are contaminated with chemical residue from modern farming processes such as ‘Round Up’ spray and the bi-products of factory farming. (Davis, 2004)
We have seen the effects of these modern processes on the health of our world population; with four times more people suffering from Coeliac Disease today than sixty years ago. For these people, Gluten consumption can lead to a number of extreme gut and non-gut related issues such as chronic IBS, dermatitis, muscle and joint pain, and lethargy to name a few.
Even if you’re not ‘Coeliac’ however, gluten can still have a serious impact on your overall health; with thousands of people having been negatively tested for coeliac disease still experiencing gastrointestinal upset and other physical and psychological side effects. This is what is now referred to as Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), and it is believed that a large proportion of the general public experience NCGS symptoms unsuspectingly; thinking these sluggish and foggy side-effects are simply a part of daily life. (National Foundation for Coeliac Awareness).
The Latest Research
A mentor and teacher of my own, Dr. Alessio Fasano, is a world-renowned paediatric gastroenterologist and founder of the Centre for Celiac Research (1996). The world’s leading researcher in Gut related disorders, Dr, Fassano conducted research into the correlation between Gluten consumption and Autoimmune Disease, only to yield some amazing results…
In 2010 Fassano drew a link between a chemical called Zonulin and diseases on Chromosome 16 such as Coeliac disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Asthma, MS and it is only recently that he discovered Gluten ingestion is a direct trigger to Zonulin release.
Where Is Wheat Found?
Naturally, when we talk about gluten most people tend to think of bread, and while commercial breads are definitely a gluten-laden product, you may be surprised to learn how many other foodstuffs are contaminated. Gluten is primarily found in wheat based grain products as well as those that are typically marketed as ‘healthy’ alternatives such as; Sourdough breads, Barley, Rye, Spelt, Bulgur, Couscous, Farina, Kamut, Matzo and Semolina. Unfortunately these are not the only unsuspecting contaminants of gluten; these days gluten can be found in almost all processed or packaged foods: making its way into packet sauces and even canned foods.
How Do I Avoid Gluten?
The best way to avoid gluten in your diet is to focus on the range of healthful wholefoods that when prepared properly and lovingly create a delicious balanced meal filled with an abundance of vegetables, healthy fats and quality protein…leaving very little room for any ‘fillers’. If you are still looking for a gluten-free starch alternative however (as I sometimes do myself) I suggest sticking to the naturally gluten-free ancient grains such as Quinoa, Rice or Buckwheat.
There’s no need to get complicated in learning to read and identify gluten on food labels when (hopefully) we’re looking towards a largely plant based wholefoods diet…with minimal processing, packaging and labeling.