The skinny on this thing called GLUTEN: The top 5 confusions
What IS Gluten?
First I want to all get on the same page about what gluten even IS. Gluten is the PROTEIN found in wheat, barely and rye grains. If you’ve ever made homemade bread and noticed the gluey type texture when you’re kneading the dough, that’s caused by gluten…think of it as GLUE, holding the bread together.
Grains have a carbohydrate component, a fiber component, and a protein component.
I want to be clear that gluten is a PROTEIN. NOT A CARB.
What grains contain the gluten protein and which do NOT
The grains that contain the gluten protein are wheat (yes, whole wheat too), barely, rye, and spelt.
The grains and plants that DO NOT contain the gluten protein are rice, quinoa, corn, millet, amaranth, and oats.
Now a quick thing on oats, they are inherently a gluten free grain but are often cross-contaminated in either the growing or processing of the grain. So be sure and look for oats that say GLUTEN FREE.
What's the big deal?
Well, this is a great question and there is no one great answer.
There are lots of theories out there and there are LOTS of ways that people react to this protein. Some people are diagnosed with full blown celiac disease while others are diagnosed with gluten intolerance. And then there are the self-diagnosed I-just-feel-better-when-i-don’t-eat-gluten people.
I haven’t met a human who doesn’t feel better when they avoid the stuff. And the key here is to really AVOID it for at least 30 days and then reintroduce it into your diet and then tell me how you feel.
Let your BODY TELL YOU, not social media please.
And then to know that gluten can affect ANY SYSTEM. Remember in my previous post about inflammation? (post and vid) That the gluten protein can trigger that inflammatory response and it can put massive amounts of stress on the body, when done over and over and over again. Like daily. You know those cereal-for-breakfast-eaters I was talking about (5 food myths).
You know who you are.
And it may show up in signs and symptoms like:
ADD/ADHD (I’ll explain more on this later)
I could go on as you can imagine, but that gives you an idea. Really food allergies, sensitivities, intolerances can show up ANYWHERE in the body. And its our job to pay attention to how the food is affecting our bodies by either ADDING health, or TAKING IT AWAY.
So what food products contain gluten?
Unless otherwise marked these are a handful of things in our grocery store that contain gluten:
Bread (white or sprouted or whole wheat)
And then hidden in places like:
Ingredients like Dextrin, Maltodextrin, Natrual Flavor and Artificial Flavor
Why all the sudden this trend?
Another great question that unfortunately there is no straightforward answer. It is multifactorial in that it’s a combination of our declining immune health and gut health and then how we are engineering our foods.
And if you haven’t already noticed, America LOVES food trends, especially the ones about how BAD a food is for us. Like the “fat-free” craze we went through? Or how bout the dreaded carbs?
The bottom line is this; I bet you’ll feel better without it being a staple in your diet. And yet, it still fits in your mouth and tastes super awesome, so this is about CHOICE. About what foods work and don’t work to add health, bring in balance in your body and LIFE.
So is gluten bad?
Does it add health?
I haven’t seen this be the case.
Does it fit in your mouth?
Does it come in the form of mostly processed foods?
Do processed foods bring in health and add benefit to the body?
No, and I know you know this.
Do you always have choice in the matter?
So now what?
I encourage all of you to avoid (if you haven’t already) gluten-containing products for at LEAST 30 days and then reintroduce and tell me how you feel. And those of you who HAVE done this and felt a difference maybe you can comment and shed some light for those who are skeptical.
And a quick side.
If you’re eating a whole lot of processed foods containing gluten and then you just switch to the gluten free version of processed foods…um, that’s not so much the point. I want this to be WHOLE FOODS focused.
Gluten free breads, pastas, cookies, pop tarts, pretzels, cakes, crackers, chips etc…are STILL processed. Just take note of how much of this stuff makes up your daily food choices.
Resources to get you started