Let’s face it. You are not escaping the gluten conversation. While you might not understand the implications of eating wheat, you can’t help but notice gluten-free items proliferating at the grocery store. What gives?
First thing’s first: the gluten-free diet is not just for Celiacs anymore.
It’s never fun to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are concerned about your diet, you need to find alternatives to wheat products (yes, even whole-wheat bread and bran muffins). Maybe you don’t want to believe it because you had that blood-test for the anti-bodies ages ago and it came back clean. Unfortunately that ticket to bread-binging isn’t quite foolproof anymore. On top of the improvements to laboratory testing, there is a considerable increase in scientific, anecdotal, and traditional information telling us, no–SHOUTING at us, that wheat is no longer healthy for anybody. Several authors have devoted entire books to educating us about this!
Meet Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly. He’s willing to wager that most Americans’ diet and overall health are ailing not due to fat and sugar consumption, but wheat. And the biggest reason why?
The wheat you are eating isn’t even really wheat.
In the 1960s and 70s, wheat was genetically changed (not genetically modified— that’s another story). Entirely different from the grain cultivated even 40 years ago, modern wheat is a monster developed by agribusiness.
Around the time of the Green Revolution of the 1960s, the earth’s population was exploding. We had to figure out ways to feed our growing numbers. Why not make our wheat stronger to increase yields? A no-brainer, right? With the creation of a stalky, semi-dwarf strain of wheat, we had a plant that was 60% shorter. This short stalk required less fertilizer and was more weather resistant (tall wheat flops over after a rain, making harvesting difficult). Economically sound, but what happens when you alter one characteristic of a plant, knowing little about how it might affect the others? Unfortunately, it took about 30 years and all-out epidemics of diabetes, obesity, and other serious illness to prompt an investigation.
Since the 1980s, Celiac Disease has exploded, with evidence to suggest that incidence of the disease has quadrupled. Funny, I think I just read something about wheat having been genetically changed about that long ago.
By 1985, every bread product you bought in the US was made from the dwarf strain. Interestingly, also in the mid-80s, average calorie intake increased by 440 calories per day PER PERSON. That’s a lot of calories. It was the transformation of the gliadin protein in wheat (a component of gluten) that brought this unwanted change: gliadin became a potent appetite stimulant. With health trends telling us to eat less fat and more grains, our dependency on wheat became even stronger. First comes weight gain, and next an epidemic of diabetes. Wheat raises blood sugar more than almost all other foods. In fact, two slices of whole wheat bread increases blood sugar levels more than 6 teaspoons of sugar. This emphasis on grains did not help us out!
While the ubiquity of wheat and gluten makes it difficult to avoid, the evidence that it is harmful to health is too overwhelming to ignore.
Although not mentioned yet, countless other ailments are attributable to gluten sensitivity, including big name problems like migraines, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and metabolic syndromes. We want you to know that we didn’t leave them out for lack of wanting to. With gluten in everything nowadays, there is a lot to be said about its impact. We sense, however, that you might want to get started.
You are in luck.
In this time of positive change and heightened food awareness, there are huge numbers of people who are about to make your move to a gluten-free diet SO EASY! This information has had over a decade to stir many great minds, and there are innumerable resources available to you: lifestyle manuals, scientific studies, health programs, and delicious recipes already exist! We have some great ideas for you, too. In the future expect tips, resources and tricks to help you get started, and a rant about why commercial gluten-free foods are NOT good for you! Keep checking back!