Avoiding gluten is not a fad
With a quick Internet search or a scroll through your Facebook feed, you’ll see why so many people are going gluten-free. There are blog posts, Facebook groups, and entire websites dedicated to the gluten-free diet.
But for every person who has decided to cut out gluten for their health, there is another person who is resistant. The common argument we hear so often is: It’s just a fad! Give it five years, and there will be another health craze on the Internet.
GOING GLUTEN-FREE IS NOT A PASSING TREND
Gluten-rich grains and cereals have been around for centuries, but it wasn’t until recently that we began to discover exactly what they do to the body. Gluten is a protein compound, made up of proteins glutelin and gliadin, bound together by a starchy carbohydrate. Gluten can be found in a number of grass seeds in nature. These edible grass seeds are commonly referred to as grains.
People have been enjoying grains for hundreds of years, so when did gluten become the enemy? To get to the bottom of this chronic gluten dysfunction in our modern world, we have to look back even further.
In ancient times, grasses were not eaten by humans. Grains did not enter the human diet until the introduction of agriculture almost 12,000 years ago. Over time, farmers nurtured and adapted grain seeds to become larger and easier to eat. This cultivation took extra effort to introduce gluten-rich grains into the human diet.
While they provided a food source, these farmers didn’t account for how grains would affect digestion and human health.
Gluten is an Un-Natural Food, and new grains may be even more dangerous than the grains consumed several thousand years ago. Researchers estimate that up to 5 per cent of the proteins in modern drought-resistant and bug-resistant hybridized wheat are new and were not found in original wheat plants.1 New and previously undetected proteins can have an even more dramatic effect on the body – providing a clear explanation for why we are seeing higher rates of systemic inflammation, gluten intolerance, and Celiac disease than ever before.2
Gluten and other starchy carbohydrates are behind many modern diseases. Gluten proteins compromise digestive health and promote inflammation in the body. This inflammation is a prime contributor to chronic disease, triggered by lifestyle factors and inflammatory foods. Inflammatory gluten in the diet can cause serious damage to brain, heart, joint, lung, eye, and reproductive health.
5 REASONS GLUTEN ISN’T GOOD FOR YOU
“Going gluten-free” isn’t a new idea created by the Internet. When you look back to how our ancestors ate – a diet rich in Really Healthy Foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, moderate pasture-fed meats, healthy oils, nuts, beans, and seeds – eliminating gluten makes perfect sense.
There are countless ways grains can burden your health, but five reasons stick out more than most:
1. Grains have a high glycemic index.
The glycemic index refers to how quickly carbohydrate-rich foods are converted into glucose by the body, measuring how these foods impact blood sugar levels. Gluten- rich grains are exceptionally high on the glycemic index, meaning that they cause a quick spike in blood sugar. High blood sugar levels over time have been linked to a number of serious chronic diseases.3
2. Grains are acidic. To stay in balance and ward off disease, the body must maintain a naturally alkaline pH. This means that most of the foods we eat must be alkaline-forming, mainly in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables. On the other side of the coin, gluten-rich grains are highly acidic. Acidifying grains can cause calcium loss in the urine that increases risk of osteoporosis. Eating acidic grains over the long-term can also lead to acidosis – a toxic, acidifying condition that has been observed in exclusively grain-fed cattle.
3. Grains are inflammatory. Remember, at the root of most disease lies chronic inflammation.4 Researchers suggest thata gluten-free diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding could help to reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes in young children by minimizing inflammation.5 Grains do nothing more than further inflammation in the body because of their imbalanced omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio, known to trigger inflammation. The widespread inflammation caused by grains is made even worse when paired with the unhealthy spreads we put on pasta and bread and the milk products we eat on cereal.
4. Grains destroy gut health. Researchers have long proved that your gut is the central control station in your body – large communities of friendly gut bacteria can benefit all aspects of your health, including immunity, mood, and even neurological function.6 Researchers observed that a gluten-free, casein-free diet could improve behaviour and other symptoms in children with autism.7 Eating too many starchy grains creates a sugar overload in the body; unfriendly bacteria in the gut feed on this sugar and can quickly take over. Once gut health is compromised, it leaves the door open for harmful and pathogenic bacteria to wreak havoc on the body.
5. Grains are devoid of nutrients. This last point is perhaps the simplest of all because it appeals to logic – gluten-rich grains have been stripped of the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs each day to thrive. Eating grains at each meal replaces other foods that can provide these vital nutrients, like fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. Eating too much gluten imbalances the diet and can encourage vitamin and mineral deficiency.
No matter what the critics say, avoiding gluten doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. It’s easy to enjoy a nourishing, fulfilling diet without a hint of gluten – by filling our plates with fresh fruits and veggies; grass-fed meats; grains, nuts, and seeds; and starchy carbohydrate alternatives, like gluten-free legume pasta made with a single anti-inflammatory ingredient.
Going gluten-free isn’t just a passing trend. It’s a way of life. Avoiding this inflammatory trigger known to compromise health and promote disease can bring us back to basics, back to a time before our guts were corrupted by a grain we were never supposed to eat.
1. Genome. 2010 Jan;53(1):35-44. doi: 10.1139/ g09-085.
2. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011 Aug; 7(8): 554–556.
3. de Munter JS, Hu FB, Spiegelman D, Franz M, van Dam RM. Whole grain, bran, and germ intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study and systematic review. PLoS Med. 2007;4:e261.
4. “Inflammation Research.” La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.
5. C. H. F. Hansen, ukasz Krych, K. Buschard, S. B. Metzdorff, C. Nellemann, L. H. Hansen, D. S. Nielsen, H. Frokiaer, S. Skov, A. K. Hansen. A maternal gluten-free diet reduces inflammation and diabetes incidence in the offspring of NOD mice. Diabetes, 2014; DOI: 10.2337/db13-1612. 6. Kirsten Tillisch, Jennifer Labus, Lisa Kilpatrick, Zhiguo Jiang, Jean Stains, Bahar Ebrat, Denis Guyonnet, Sophie Legrain-Raspaud, Beatrice Trotin, Bruce Naliboff, Emeran A. Mayer. Consumption of Fermented Milk Product with Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity. Gastroenterology, 2013; DOI: 10.1053/j. gastro.2013.02.043.
7. Pennesi Christine M.; Klein Laura Cousino. Effectiveness of the gluten-free, casein-free diet for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: Based on parental report. Nutritional Neuroscience, 2012 DOI: 10.1179/1476830512Y.0000000003.