What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein made up of glutenin and gliadin molecules, which in the presence of water form an elastic bond. Gluten is most commonly found in wheat, rye and barley.
However, other grains such as oats and spelt also contain gluten, and gluten can be found in countless processed foods without being labeled as such. For example, gluten can hide under a variety of labels, including the following. (Celiac.com has a long list of label ingredients that typically contain hidden gluten.)
How Gluten Damages Health
The word "gluten" comes from the Latin word for glue, and its adhesive properties hold bread and cake together. As noted in the video, bread makers may also add extra gluten in order to create a more spongy texture. But those same “binding” properties also interfere with the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, including the nutrients from other foods in the same meal. The result can be likened to a glued-together constipating lump in your gut, which can impede proper digestion.
The undigested gluten then triggers your immune system to attack the lining of your small intestine, which can cause symptoms like diarrhea or constipation, nausea and abdominal pain.
Over time, your small intestine becomes increasingly damaged and inflamed. This in turn can lead to malabsorption of nutrients and nutrient deficiencies, anemia, osteoporosis and other health problems. The condition can also cause a wide array of other symptoms that are not gastrointestinal in nature, including neurological or psychological problems, and problems related to the skin, liver, joints, nervous system and more.
Wheat Has Changed
Wheat is one of the most widely grown crops in the Western world. But the wheat of today is vastly different from the wheat our ancestors grew and ate. This is likely part of the explanation as to why celiac disease and gluten intolerance have risen four-fold since the 1950s. Some believe the sharp increase is merely a sign of improved diagnosis, but research suggests the rise in prevalence is real, and that dramatic changes in the diet play a distinct role. The proportion of gluten protein in wheat has increased enormously as a result of hybridization. Until the 19th century, wheat was also usually mixed with other grains, beans and nuts; pure wheat flour has been milled into refined white flour only during the last 200 years. The resulting high-gluten, refined grain diet most of you have eaten since infancy was simply not part of the diet of previous generations.
According to some experts interviewed in the featured video, including Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research in Massachusetts, mankind did not evolve to eat gluten and therefore cannot digest it properly. Research suggests the human gut views gluten as a foreign invader against which it must mount an immune response, and Fasano believes this is true for everyone. However, that doesn’t mean everyone must avoid gluten. Most people, he says, can handle gluten without clinical consequence. Others are not so lucky. People with autoimmune disorders are particularly at risk for complications. Sixteen years ago, Fasano and his team found that gluten can stimulate a molecule in your gut called zonulin — a protein that triggers the opening of junctures between the cells in your gut lining. In essence, it makes your gut more permeable, allowing food particles to escape into your bloodstream, causing inflammation, immune reactions and raising your risk of various autoimmune disorders. This is known as leaky gut syndrome, and you don’t have to have celiac disease to suffer the consequences of leaky gut.
Please watch for your reaction to gluten and eliminate it or limit it for good overall health. Consider the reaction in your gut because immune health is primarily in your gut. In addition, please consider the psychological implications of a heavy grain diet. New York Times Best Seller, “Grain Brain,” written by Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist, in which he reveals how processed grains can trigger neurological dysfunction and worsen dementia.
Processed foods cause inflammation, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many other diseases. Consider whole live foods such as fruits and vegetables and good fats. Limit the bread,cereals, pastries etc. if you do have them regularly, consider gluten free options. I have severely limited processed foods to almost none. Occasionally I will have bread, but look for organic options and gluten free options. I'm not a bread eater, so that is not a struggle for me, but I know it can be a struggle for many; so I understand the challenge with removal, but try limiting and gluten free options. My motto is always little by little over time consistently nets big results. Don't try change all at once. You will feel better, lose weight, build a strong immune system and protect your brain.
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