I just want to re-post my gluten explanation, since the elimination of wheat was a totally HOT topic last weekend at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition Mega Conference. All the speakers, whether vegetarian, vegan, raw or Paleo seemed to agree that wheat has no place in an optimally healthy diet. And to reinforce that, my additional research has let me to the same conclusion.
Gluten-free diets are all the rage lately. For some people, it’s totally legit to go gluten-free since many people have a gluten intolerance. Some people are going gluten-free because they think it’s a good way to lose weight.
That seems silly to me, but let’s discuss what gluten actually is, anyway. Update: No longer does this seem silly to me! I’ve been reading Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health and Dr. William Davis illustrates how wheat spikes blood sugar even more than straight sugar does. High blood sugar = high insulin, and insulin is the fat storage hormone. Mystery solved!
In simple terms, gluten is a protein composite that exists in some carbohydrates like wheat, barley and rye, spelt, faro and kamut. It’s often used as an additive in processed foods as a stabilizing agent, or to boost the protein content on the nutritional label. It helps give elasticity to dough, helps bread rise, and gives baked goods a chewy texture. It’s the “glue” that holds regular pasta together.
Gluten is difficult to digest. Some people, like those who have Celiac disease, have more trouble with it than others. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that prevents a person from digesting gluten. Even if you don’t have Celiac disease, you may have some degree of difficulty digesting gluten. Update: I cannot believe how many different ways in which gluten sensitivities can manifest. From skin rashes to rheumatoid arthritis to autism to dementia, gluten can be the culprit or at least a strong contributing factor.
So how do you know if you are sensitive to gluten? You can do an elimination diet for one week, abstaining from eating or drinking anything that has gluten in it. This can be harder than it looks! You have to read labels. Once you reintroduce gluten into your diet, notice if you feel bloated or have any strange reactions. If so, you should go to your naturopath or medical doctor to get checked for a gluten intolerance. Update: I have learned that when you cut out gluten, you’ve got to cut it ALL out. This is not like cutting back on sugar. This is cutting all ties with any amount of gluten, no matter how small.
Have you ever tried to eat gluten-free? Let me know how it went in the comments below!