I cannot pinpoint the exact time or place but seemingly overnight, gluten became the enemy. Suddenly almost every single package at the grocery store changed to exclaim, “gluten-free!”, as if there was a massive public health warning about the dangers of gluten in food.
Part of me thought, “well, this is the next diet fad; like the adkins diet or how everything became fat-free in the 90’s with olestra”.
But the gluten-free thing has stuck (no pun intended). What is gluten? Why does it seem to be in everything? Why do we need to remove it from everything?
According to the Celiac disease foundation;
“Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected.”
I reference the Celiac disease foundation because this is patient zero, if you will. The gluten free thing started with the discovery of celiacs disease being that the main symptom of the disease is an allergy to gluten. Personally, I can recall the first time that I heard about gluten was while watching The View , wherein Elisabeth Hasselbeck shared her struggle with celiac disease and the food alternatives she would eat.
Okay, so gluten is bad for people with celiac disease because When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.
So WHY is EVERYONE questioning their gluten intake?
One school of thought claims that the gluten free thing is all about marketing and money. Corporations can make more money by scaring people into buying gluten free products because gluten is bad for you just because and HELLO gluten has been in bread forever (Jesus broke bread with people).
On the other hand, there are several studies indicating that modern wheat is not what our grandparents and great grandparents ate. What we are eating today is scientifically-engineered franken-wheat. It has three times the gluten leading to tremendous inflammation and thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s Disease. It also contains a super starch called amylopectin, which the body does not know how to convert to energy, and so instead, the body stores as fat. This is a big reason why modern wheat is a major player in the diabetes and obesity epidemic we are facing as a nation.
I think that the truth lies somewhere in between. Yes, big money is going to find a way to make money off from anything, ” Gluten-free lettuce!”. However, there has to be some truth to the school of gluten sensitivity.
Gluten. To be or not to be; that is the question.