The Gluten Debate

Set of grunge rubber stamps  with  the text gluten free written inside, vector illustration

Poor old gluten, it seems to be under attack! Is it just another health fad, a health crisis, or is it a food crisis? It depends on whose point of view you look at.

Is it just another health fad, a health crisis, or is it a food crisis? It depends on whose point of view you look at.

But it does not matter who you believe because, for someone like me who is not officially celiac, but is, what is known as gluten intolerant, the side effects are hell – and the long term damage it has done to my wellbeing massive.

So what is gluten?

Gluten is a protein composite found in several types of grains, including wheat, spelt, rye and barley. It is made up of two proteins – gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin is the offending protein causing negative reactions.

Gluten is a useful thing. It binds flour with water, to form a sticky cross-linked network of proteins, giving elastic properties to the dough and allowing bread to rise when baked. It is what gives us the texture and taste to bread that we like. It adds texture and binds our packaged foods and sauces. And the best part for the manufacturers is that it is addictive!

In actual fact, the name gluten is derived from its glue-like properties.

When gluten reaches the digestive tract and is exposed to the cells of the immune system, they mistakenly believe that it is coming from some sort of foreign invader, like bacteria.

In people who are sensitive to gluten, this causes the immune system to mount an attack against it.

There are basically two types of unlucky people who have gluten issues.

Officially, only1% of the population who have a severe reaction to gluten, have something called Celiac disease. Their immune system not only attacks the gluten proteins, but it also attacks the enzyme in the digestive tract called the tissue transglutaminase.

This means that that the immune system attacks its own intestinal wall causing the degeneration of the wall causing nutrient deficiencies, various digestive issues, anemia, fatigue and a failure to thrive. Because of this, Celiac disease is listed as an autoimmune disease.

Although the number is officially only 1% there has been a recorded rise of celiac disease in the elderly.

The question this holds, is that, is this caused due to their weakened immune systems as they age, lack of gut flora due to age, or could it be the change in the quality of the grains they are eating? (more about this later).

There could also be the simple fact that 80% of celiacs do not know that they are celiac. They do not have the classic symptoms. As we age, we have so many more tests to keep track of our health to keep us alive. It could be because of those multiple tests, they are finding more celiacs as they age, maybe many younger people are celiac but do not know it.

The danger of not knowing if you are celiac is that it doubles your risk of death.

But you do not have to be a celiac to have a negative reaction to gluten. There has been a massive increase of gluten intolerant people. The symptoms are very similar to celiac disease. Bloating, stomach pain, severe fatigue (sufferers are often diagnosed with chronic fatigue, the fatigue is so similar) diarrhea alternating with constipation, aching joints, fuzzy head, confusion, massive weight gain which cannot be shifted and headaches. Long term, like celiac disease, the sufferer’s intestinal tract will weaken, and leaky gut will occur, allowing toxins to leak into the system.

The symptoms are very similar to celiac disease. Bloating, stomach pain, severe fatigue (sufferers are often diagnosed with chronic fatigue, the fatigue is so similar) diarrhea alternating with constipation, aching joints, fuzzy head, confusion, massive weight gain which cannot be shifted and headaches. Long term, like celiac disease, the sufferer’s intestinal tract will weaken, and leaky gut syndrome will occur, allowing toxins to leak into the system.

One gastroenterologist found that 11% of people had antibodies against gluten in their blood and 29% of people had antibodies against it in their stool samples.

About 40% of us carry the HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes, which make people susceptible to gluten sensitivity. Add that all up, and you are looking at a very large percentage of humans who do not do well eating gluten!

Many diseases show a marked improvement when gluten is removed from the sufferer’s diet.

Irritable bowel sufferers find their symptoms decrease with their health improving dramatically within a very short period of time.

A study held over a 50 year period, noted a fourfold increase in adverse reactions to gluten.

There has been a rise in Autism and Attention deficit disorder, also known as ADD, Hashimoto’s, Diabetes, Inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis. There has been an epidemic of depression, anxiety, and mental illness. Osteoporosis is also linked to gluten sensitivity, B deficiency, and iron deficiency.

Studies have shown that Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Type 1 Diabetes, and Multiple sclerosis sufferers all showed a marked improvement after being on a gluten-free diet.

There are also studies which now show an improvement in mental health when those who suffer from mental health issues remove glutens from their diets.

Studies show that Schizophrenia patients show massive improvements by removing gluten from their diets.

Autistic people show marked improvements on a gluten-free diet, as well as Epileptics.

People have noticed a massive lowering of their blood cholesterol readings when going on a gluten free diet.

Specialists are now looking at gluten being one of the major causes of dementia and heart disease (along with sugar).

I have personally seen a massive improvement in those suffering from depression. I have seen people who have what is classified as undiagnosable neurological problems have clearer minds and better mental health as soon as they remove gluten and sugar from their diets.

We ask why more and more people are having gluten issues than ever before. Many experts believe that it is because gluten is in everything, from the bread we eat (of course) to the vitamins we swallow! It is used in most processed foods we eat, from health food bars to cereals, to the pre-marinated chicken or meat we buy, to soy sauce and other sauces such as tomato sauce. It is in our sweets and chocolates, our healthy veggie burgers, just to name a few. Unless something says it is gluten free – there is gluten in it.

Many experts believe that it is because gluten is in everything, from the bread we eat (of course) to the vitamins we swallow! It is used in most processed foods we eat, from health food bars to cereals, to the pre-marinated chicken or meat we buy, to soy sauce and other sauces such as tomato sauce. It is in our sweets and chocolates, our healthy veggie burgers, just to name a few. Unless something says it is gluten free – there is gluten in it.

It is used in most processed foods we eat, from health food bars to cereals, to the pre-marinated chicken or meat we buy, to soy sauce and other sauces such as tomato sauce. It is in our sweets and chocolates, our healthy veggie burgers, just to name a few. Unless something says it is gluten free – there is gluten in it.

Other experts blame the way our food is grown. Unless you are eating organic flours, your grain will not contain the ‘germ’ which helps our bodies digest the grain. Thanks to organizations such as Monsanto, who have developed genetically modified mold and rust proof grains that cannot reproduce themselves (thanks to the removal of the germ). These are new grains to our systems, our digestive systems were not designed to eat these grains, and definitely not in the quantities we are consuming daily.

Gluten is addictive, so what many manufacturers are replacing gluten with, in gluten-free foods, is sugar (another addictive substance), trans fats and easily digestible grains all of which conspire to make us desire more! So be careful when buying gluten free processed foods, you may find yourself swapping gluten for sugar and we know how bad that is for you!

If you suffer from unexplained weight gain, anxiety, and or fatigue, or a high cholesterol which will not go down, give gluten up for 6 weeks – I promise you, you will never go back!

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