I have wondered about this new epidemic of gluten intolerance, and thought what has changed? My parents and grandparents were raised in the “Soviet Era”, and lived off bread and potatoes, yet I know there is only a certain amount of gluten I can tolerate before I just feel sluggish and horrible. I have there genetics so what’s the go?
Firstly lets note that Gluten is a mixture of tiny proteins that you can find in wheat, rye, spelt, gamut and faro. There are two groups of gluten: prolamines and glutelins. It is the prolamine GLIADIN that causes painful inflammation in the gut and creates an immune response causing intestinal damage that people with Celiac Disease (CD) experience. With CD the gluten damages the intestines. People with Gluten Intolerance/Sensitivity (GI) have problems digesting the gluten (or a certain amount) WITHOUT intestinal damage, though it is possible for mucous to build up in response decreasing your ability to absorb nutrients. It is like your body is getting starved without knowing it!
Now there is evidence that hybrid versions of these grains we eat today contain significantly more gluten than traditional varieties of the same grain. Reasons for creating hybrid varieties are to make the crop durable and obviously yield more produce. Unfortunately the more yield you get out of the crop the less micro-nutrients it has such as Zinc, Selenium and Iron.
Next to look at is how the bread is baked. There is a great demand for food therefore supply needs to be quick, and bacteria and yeasts are not left long enough to ferment the bread. A 2007 study (Applied and Environmental Microbiology) showed when wheat bread is throughly fermented, it reduces gluten levels from roughly 75,000 ppm to 12, which qualifies it as gluten-free!
The fact that gluten is a binder and texture stabiliser in foods means that you now find it everywhere in packaged and processed foods. It truly is hard for people to monitor their intake! Gluten is hidden in so many things like ketchup and salad dressing to name a few!
So what to do….? Do you eat it or not? You can have the gene for these intolerances but they may or may not ever be expressed. You are the only person in your body, therefore you are the perfect one to know how it makes you feel. No matter if you have had all the medical tests and you come back clear….if it doesn’t make you feel good— don’t have it. If you are not sure then try eliminating it for 2 weeks and see how you feel! Don’t forget to assess your mood and focus levels too, not just digestion. For those with auto-immune issues you may need to eliminate it for up to 6 months to see the difference.
Also I would not recommend any of the gluten-free varieties out there either. Have a read of the ingredients, and if you can’t or there are numbers I’d put it down. Stick to whole foods.
Talk to your practitioner if you have anymore queries on what foods your body does and doesn’t tolerate. I can understand it being so confusing this day and age.