What’s So Bad About Gluten?
Gluten has a rep…yes it does. Gluten has a reputation as a problematic type of protein found in some grains, including wheat. It is present in all forms of wheat (bulgur, durum, semolina, spelt, farro and more) as well as in barley, rye and triticale (a wheat-rye cross) that is different from the protein, for example, from meat. We can easily find it from the servings of bread we all love at our favorite restaurant to the dough on our favorite pizzas, gluten is found in many foods.
Wheat also contains ‘Lectins.’ In plants, lectins serve as a natural defense system to fight off mold and parasites. When plants sense an invader, lectins counterattack by binding to the foreign sugar molecules to stop the unwanted cells in their tracks. That is good news for the plants, but not for us.
For most people, it causes no problems or as I say, perceived problems. But some people are allergic to gluten. In fact, 1% of the population has a very serious immune response to gluten. The reason for this is that gluten damages the lining of the small intestine in those with celiac disease interfering with the absorption of nutrients and may cause symptoms such as diarrhea, weight loss and much more. Not healthy.
Unless you have celiac disease, you may not have to avoid it completely. However, with the increase in gluten products made with highly refined wheat flour over the last 50 years that has been genetically tweaked, crossbred and hybridized. And with all of this hybridization of poor old wheat, the gluten content of some varieties has increased by as much as 50 percent.
We now know modern day gluten can produce side effects such as the ‘perceived’ side effects; a ‘gluten sensitivity’ that can create havoc with your health such as: stomach pains, bloat, heartburn, joint pains, headache, skin rashes, eczema fatigue, insomnia and brain fog, to name just a few.
Fortunately, it’s becoming easier all the time to find tasty foods made with ‘G-Free’ grains, such as brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum and quinoa – none of which contain gluten.
With my clients, I have found that by eliminating gluten-containing foods for 2 weeks and gradually reintroducing these foods to determine your sensitivity, simply by paying attention to which foods trigger symptoms or not.
Unfortunately, gluten-free can make you fat. Yep. These gluten-free products are packed with saturated fat, low in fiber, high in sugar and sodium..just like other junk food, and these products often contain refined ingredients like white rice flour or fillers like potato starch that spike your blood sugar resulting in hunger and cravings.
The key is to add foods that are going to benefit you…and oh you will know if you pay attention. You may feel much more energetic or you may feel with gluten products like you have been hit by a truck. To help you on your gluten-free path, always lean towards vegetables and fruits, lean meats, fish and poultry, certain whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, reduced-fat or fat-free dairy, nuts and seeds, beans and other legumes, and healthy fats, like avocados, extra-virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
Be aware of the symptoms, if any, you may have from gluten and you can live a life with gluten or choose to kick it to the curb. Either way, with healthful choices..you are on the road to optimal health.
To Your Health,
© 2013 DLS HealthWorks, LLC.
Lori Shemek, PhD, Health and weight loss expert, is the best-selling author of Fire-Up Your Fat Burn!