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What’s the Deal with Gluten?

Gluten-free is more than just a trendy way of eating – it could be the answer to woes of many.  First, it’s important to understand just exactly what gluten is.

Here are some common questions I hear:

What is Gluten?  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains like kamut and spelt.

How do I know if something has gluten in it?  Chances are, it will be sticky, doughy, and holds together nicely.  The word gluten in Latin means “glue”. Gluten is what gives pizza pie crust the sticky residue that prevents it from falling apart during the pizza boy’s pie crust acrobatics.

wheatWhy is gluten suddenly such a hot topic and why didn’t I hear about it much when I was a kid? A brief history of wheat points to the rise in gluten-sensitivity after the hybridization of wheat in the 1950s. At this time, a genetically hybridized wheat crop was established to harvest the wheat faster. This left the wheat with a higher quantity of gluten. The profit margin of this quick-yielding wheat allowed it to become a staple crop in our society. However, this form of gluten is a far cry from what nature intended.  Prior to this hybridization, the human body could handle small amounts of the traditional heirloom grain known as “Einkorn”.

Why should I consider going gluten-free?  According to Alessio Fasano, a prominent lead scientist focusing on gluten and its component gliadin, the human body lacks the enzymes to break it down. Approximately 1 in 133 Americans suffer from an ever-rising, auto-immune disease known as Celiac Disease. Those with Celiac can’t even have gluten in their toothpaste, let alone on their plate.

And here are some other facts pertaining to gluten you should be aware of….

wheat“Amylopectin A” aka the starch in hybridized wheat (since most of the wheat we eat today is certainly modified and hybridized) and in anything containing gluten, has actually been found to raise blood sugar more so than sugary foods. It causes the blood sugar to QUICKLY spike and subsequently QUICKLY drop, leading you to eat more of the same.  Similarly, an opioid effect in gluten has been observed, creating a strong addiction to gluten-containing products as well as having deleterious effects on the body.

It’s not your fault you have a hard time giving up cereal, bread, pastries, pastas, crackers, pretzels and the like.  It seems to be due to the gluteomorphine effect on the brain!

How do I go gluten-free easily?

Simply swapping out man-made gluten-containing products with plant-based, natural sources of carbohydrates is your best bet.  Here are some naturally safe gluten-free alternatives:

  • Potatoes
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Buckwheat, amaranth, millet, and other gluten-free natural grains
  • Starchy vegetables like butternut squash, and carrots.
  • Non-starchy vegetables such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, etc.

wheat-For cooking purposes, swap out white and wheat flour with coconut flour, garbanzo bean flour, almond flour, and other nut-based flours.

-Focus on a gluten-free diet that is rich in good fats such as avocado, coconut oil, and egg yolks, as well as moderate amounts of quality protein (wild-caught fish, grass-fed meats, nuts and seeds).

Finally, keep in mind that simply limiting your gluten may not leave you with the desired optimal health. Small amounts of gluten can still lead to systemic and chronic low-grade inflammation. Think of it this way: It’s very hard to dry off after your shower if you keep the shower water trickling down on you.  For best results, completely avoid gluten-containing foods for at least 6 weeks to 6 months.

Want more help going gluten-free? Consider my pre-made meal plan “Going Gluten-free the Easy Way” available for purchase on my website. You will find it loaded with information, recipes, tips, and tricks to help you make a safe transition to a more optimal eating regimen for your brain and body.

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