Gluten-free. You see it on food labels everywhere. It’s a scorching hot nutritional buzz word, but what does it mean and why is it important? If you’re not already eating gluten-free, should you be? Some experts suggest that gluten sensitivity, food addiction and alcoholism are closely related because they share a common chemical component that alters brain chemistry. Gluten may also play (a yet to be proven) role in obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancers related to sex organs, depression and alzheimer’s.
1 out of every 133 American adults is officially diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, but it’s estimated that 90% of the people with gluten sensitivity are still undiagnosed, and it may be as high as 15% of the population. The incidence of gluten sensitivity has been steadily and dramatically soaring since 1950, up about 400%. Why is this happening? While the jury is still officially out, this article explores the controversial and plausible theory that the increase in gluten sensitivity is directly liked to the hybridized, crossbred, genetically modified wheat that we all eat. Keep in mind, dear readers, that gluten awareness and research is still a relatively new topic, and I am simply providing a brief opinionated overview of a complex topic. This theory was popularized by Dr. William Davis in his book, Wheat Belly.
Gluten is found is grain-type plants like wheat, rye and barley; wheat however, is by far the predominant source of gluten for Americans. The wheat that we eat in our breads, cakes and cookies is made with dramatically different wheat than the daily bread of Biblical times or even 60 years ago. Dr. Oz calls it frankenwheat, and it’s the only wheat available in our modern, commercial world. It doesn’t matter if you buy your wheat products at the health food store or the grocery store. It doesn’t matter if the wheat is whole or highly processed. It doesn’t matter if the wheat is organic or not.
These new wheat plants are engineered to yield the biggest harvest in the smallest space in the shortest time. They’re also genetically structured to be disease resistant and to respond to particular fertilizers and pesticides. And most importantly, frankenwheat is much shorter than the famed amber waves of grain we sang about as children. As it turns out, the smaller dwarf size of the wheat may be a key feature because it results in a higher concentration and more potent dose of gluten than in the past.
When you see the word “gluten” think of the word “glue” because it makes fat stick like glue to your hips. Wheat consumption and obesity will be the topic of another blog post. In terms of physical properties, gluten is the visco-elastic chewy substance that makes dough rise, stretch, roll, spread and twist, and it’s only found in grain-type plants. Gluten is where plant most plant protein is stored. People with gluten sensitivity do not fully digest the protein that’s stored in the gluten and this results in a wide range of symptoms including stomach pain, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea as well as changes in energy, mood and/or headaches.
The symptoms for gluten sensitivity are similar to the symptoms for celiac disease, but celiac disease is a serious condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a physician. It’s an autoimmune disease that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents absorption of food. Celiac disease is thought to be triggered by two factors: a genetic predisposition and the consumption of gluten.
Visit the following websites for more information about gluten sensitivity and/or celiac disease: