Oh Gluten, Why Do I Not Eat You So?

Do any of these phrases sound familiar or have you actually used these as reasons for avoiding gluten? 

  • I feel  much better when I don’t eat it
  • I don’t feel so bloated
  • I’m gluten intolerant
  • My guts work much better 
  • I’ve lost weight
  • I just stay away from that stuff
  • Gluten is evil (Thank you, Unknown Bachelorette: Chris’ Season)

If so, then you’ve probably come face to face with this critical question:What in the world IS Gluten? The following video provides some interesting and quasi-enlightening definitions. 

Jimmy Kimmel asks people who avoid gluten, “What is Gluten?

First things first, according the Celiac Disease foundation:

“Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. 

Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected.”

In Canada, approximately 350,000 people have Celiac Disease which is the inability to process gluten. The Celiac Disease Foundation states: 

“Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease. Celiac disease can affect men and women of all ages and races.”

There are many in the scientific community as well as in popular culture talking about eliminating ‘gluten’ from our diet. They talk about wheat belly, leaky guts, gluten sensitivity or intolerance and how eating gluten may impact the human immunize system. There are others who run in the same circles who claim that ‘gluten intolerance’ is a mere placebo effect, that is, it’s all in the mind. 

Books upon books are trumpeting the message of self-empowerment to take a stand against wheat. A simple Google search will reveal a search engine results page containing leaky gut symptoms, leaky gut treatment, leaky gut syndrome, leaky gut diet plan, and various leaky gut books. 

Dr. Davis, cardiologist, believes that current nutrition guidelines, which include refined wheat, have led the world into a whirlwind of obesity, diabetes, and other ‘modern’ health issues including rheumatoid arthritis and even multiple sclerosis. Wow. Could a few proteins be responsible for that?

Why wouldn’t you take advice from a cardiologist or a nutritionist, who tell you that eating today’s wheat (which has been genetically modified and over processed by big agro) is a major trigger for auto-immune diseases. They point out the ‘nutritional’ mistakes that millions of people are making and provide ‘genuine science’ behind the consumption of whole grains (ancient grains) over refined grains, such as wheat.

Let’s ask Dr. Weil about ‘leaky gut’ syndrome. He states that although ‘leaky gut’ is currently not widely recognized by the medical community as a diagnosis, research is finding that it is a condition that may affect the lining of the intestines. Leaky gut refers to the idea that the walls of the intestines are somehow not that good at keeping toxins, bacteria and waste on the inside. Some of those toxins may go through the lining and end up in the bloodstream, setting off an inflammatory/autoimmune response in the body.  

What do other people in popular culture say?  Here are 10 signs you may be gluten intolerant. Others feel that the ‘gluten-free’ movement is just a marketing ploy that’s ruining our relationship with food.

Below is a video titled “Is gluten sensitivity actually real?”

‘Is gluten sensitivity actually real?”


Why I Avoid Gluten

I often get asked why I avoid gluten since I don’t have Celiac disease. As a rule, I avoid gluten (products containing refined wheat including all-purpose flour) and here are some things I noticed when I initially stopped eating it. Obviously, this information is anecdotal and shared for information purposes only.

1. When there was no bread to dive into, fruit and veggies took its place. As soon as I eliminated wheat based food, (it was “easier” to munch on a muffin, toast or make a sandwich), I found that I was eating many more fruits and vegetables.

2. As a result of eating more fruit and vegetables, I lost weight.

3. I felt better after losing weight – the fruit, vegetables, smoothies, and proper hydration made my digestive system ‘miraculously’ work much better (I will spare you the details).

4. I know that when I eat gluten, I over eat. It just tastes so darn good. So as a lifestyle choice, I just stay away from gluten as much as possible.

Am I gluten intolerant? No. Are some people gluten intolerant? Research is on going.

What about the Gluten Free Diet and Gluten Free Products?

CBC Market place did a very informative piece on eating a gluten free diet and commercially available gluten free products. Help or Marketing Hype? You decide.

I couldn’t help but include a video that pokes a bit of fun at those of us who embrace a gluten free diet by choice (those of us who DO NOT have Celiac disease but choose to avoid gluten anyway). The video is titled ‘How to Become Gluten Intolerant”. Thank you, Cindy for passing this video on.

Additional reading on Gluten:

Live Science: What is Gluten?

Canadian Celiac Association: What does ‘gluten free’ mean in Canada?

Washington Post: How the gluten-free movement is ruining our relationship with food

FDA: Gluten free now means what it says

Dr. Weil.com: Leaky Gut

Dr. William Davis: Wheat Belly Blog

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