Magazine article covering the benefits of gluten free eating
No Gluten for Me!
Why is wheat bad for me? What could possibly be bad about wheat? I don’t have any bowel reactions… So, it’s okay for me, right?
The more I see people eating a gluten free diet, the more I realize how bad our modern-day wheat and other gluten containing grains are for our bodies. Man’s conquest and domestication of wheat, rye and other glutenous grains has revolutionized our diets away from berries, nuts and meats to our modern-day diet laced with and often dominated by gluten grains.
The modern-day diet can cause both obvious and subtle health reactions. It seems, the more man improves upon the hybridization and cultivation of wheat, the worse the effects become.
The Majestic Wheat of olden days was grown from seed saved year to year. It would spoil if kept too long or not kept dry. It would germinate and produce more wheat when cultivated. Majestic Wheat would cross pollinate with other wheat and provided the genetic variety needed by man’s digestive system. Just as the seasons provide variety in our diet with the different fruits and vegetables coming in out of season, cross pollination adds variety to our diets by providing genetic variety. This is important because eating the same thing day after day makes the body allergic to your favorite foods.
Modern day wheat is mostly a monoclonal hybrid that does not have the genetic variety found in Majestic Wheat. Neither will it germinate to produce another wheat plant. But hence, after it is harvested, it is stored on average for three to four years in bunkers where toxic gases and insidious molds and other pathogens can proliferate.
To top it off, wheat is often so finely ground, over-processed and bleached at the mill that insects have difficulty finding life-sustaining nourishment in this food product. This over-processed wheat is so finely ground that it bypasses our digestion process in the digestive tract and shunts directly into the bloodstream causing blood sugar spikes and allergic reactions. I remember growing up with a wheat sifter to sift out the husks and weevils from flour before adding it to baking recipes. Nowadays there is no need to sift flour because insects seek other sources of nutrition and leave this less nutritious wheat powder alone.
What is so bad about wheat?
Wheat, and other grains that contain a protein called gluten, are rich in glutamine and proline. Proteins in these grains and their related peptides can damage the intestines — as in the case of Celiac disease — by stimulating natural transglutaminase enzymes. These gluten proteins and consequent enzyme peptides cut and damage the sensitive villi in the intestines. Villi are tiny finger-like epithelial formations that greatly increase the absorptive surface area of the intestines. Villi are responsible for the uptake of properly digested nutrients. When the villi are damaged or destroyed, this thrusts unprepared foods and metabolites directly into the bloodstream, causing anemia and folate shortages, along with both immune system and increased insulin responses. Gluten sensitivity plus intestinal damage equals Celiac disease.
Another component of wheat and rye grains is a sticky protein called lectin which enters the epithelial cells and causes inflammatory reactions that also damage the villi and other cells in the body. Lectin is also a protein that is linked to Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
A 2003 study, quoted in a recent publication of Scientific American, found that 1 out of every 133 people have a sensitivity to gluten. Some of the many symptoms of gluten sensitivity that the article listed are: Anemia, osteoporosis, joint pain, chronic fatigue, short stature, skin lesions, seizures, dementia, schizophrenia, immune dysfunction, blood glucose and insulin level problems and hyperactivity. Other signs may be: failure to thrive, acne, dermatitis herpetiformis, ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome. All of 100% of people who have gluten sensitivity, intolerance or allergic responses also have a negative neurological response. Only 33% of all people with this challenge will notice digestive problems like gas, bowel pain, diarrhea or constipation. This means there is a lot of people reacting to gluten that don’t even know it.
In history, many others have realized food is a cause of imbalances. A Greek physician by the name of Aretaeus of Cappadocia, living in about A.D 250, described a disease he labeled “koiliakos” or “suffering in the bowels”. Aretaeuas recommended diet changes to relieve the symptoms of this disease. In the early 1800’s a Dr Mathew Baillie treated chronic diarrhea with diet changes that included limiting the diet to mostly rice. A Dutch pediatrician named Willem Karel Dicke documented a significant drop in child mortality that coincided with a bread and wheat shortage during WW II. In his doctoral thesis he declared that child mortality rates dropped tremendously from above 35% to nearly zero–only to return to the previous figures when bread and wheat again became available. Dr. Dicke also documented a dramatic drop in Celiac disease during this same time.
ADHD and gluten
A 2006 study mentioned in the Journal of Attention Disorders took 131 children with ADHD and removed gluten from their diets and all 131 children were reported to have significant improvements. A contestant on a popular television reality show, Survivor, was relieved of chronic IBS when the participation changed her diet away from gluten. She had been diagnosed and treated by the medical system for her condition for years without ever making the connection to gluten. Many people document various positive and sometimes huge changes in their health in a short time after eliminating gluten from their diets.
A growing awareness of gluten in the diet in the medical and nutritional professions is starting to alert people to some of the problems caused by eating gluten. If you suspect a sensitivity to gluten take a gluten-free challenge for a few weeks and see what changes come out of it. Then after the gluten-free sabbatical, note what happens when you eat gluten again. It may astonish you, and it may change your life and your health for the better.
Until next time its gluten free for me!
For more resources and information:
Authored by retired Cancer Nutritionist Craig Stellpflug, Dayspring Cancer Clinic Scottsdale, AZ, Copyright 2010 Craig Stellpflug© Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this article but only in its entirety