Isn't that a little extreme, "Gluten, our generation's tobacco", my friend asked me? I wish I could say it were extreme-this addictive bond we've created with this gluey, gummy substance-but it's not. Gluten addiction is alive and well (actually, it's making us not so well) and it's steadily impacting the well-being of our kids, of adults and even our pets in a very detrimental way.
Gluten, which means glue in Latin, provides our modern wheat products with the stretchy, gooey, chewy texture that allows NYC pizza pie professionals to toss and stretch dough for the perfect pie; it holds cupcakes, cakes and flaky pie crusts perfectly together; it allows bagels to take their shape and easily molds puffy cereals, pastries and chewy breads.
So, what's the big deal with gluten? Well, where do I begin?!? There are so many non-biased, well-researched studies on gluten and how it negatively impacts the body that I could write a novel on its ill effects (and many people have). From its detrimental impact on blood sugar, type II diabetes, Alzheimer's, brain disorders, neurological conditions and weight gain to thyroid disorders, ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, infertility, bad behavior in kids, depressed immunity and involuntary muscle spasms, this glutenous protein substance is nothing but trouble for our biologically wired fat burning body's.
10,000 years ago, there were a smattering of grains available to few cultures. However, these grains have almost zero resemblance to the grains we consume today. Instead of the wild-grasses our ancient ancestors stumbled upon and rarely consumed 10,000 years ago, we are eating genetically bio-engineered grains that contain up to 40% more gluten than grains contained only a few decades ago. Top that with our wheat products being dosed 3-days before harvest with glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular herbicide RoundUp Ready, and you've got yourself a gooey, toxic, poor excuse for food.
One of the biggest concerns to me with regard to gluten is the astonishing amounts of gluten products that kids eat today. Cereals, breads, pizza, pretzels, pasta, bagels, muffins, doughnuts, pastries-these foods dominate our children's plates. And, it doesn't matter if these products are organic or not, they're harming you and your child in significant ways.
Since medical and government officials have advised us to eat a diet consisting of 60% carbohydrates, our rates of type II diabetes have tripled. 18.8 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 and another 7 million went undetected. Between 1995-2010 the number of diagnosed cases of diabetes skyrocketed by 50% or more in 42 states and by 100% in more than 18 states.
What does this have to do with gluten you might ask? Well...everything.
The impact of gluten doesn't just effect those with Celiacs disease (an autoimmune condition where individuals can't process gluten) rather, gluten impacts each and everyone of us. On a very basic level, this is because we are biologically hard-wired to burn fat and ketones as fuel. When we eat gluten, carbs and/or sugar our body burns glucose as fuel. Burning glucose as fuel activates inflammatory pathways in the body.
In fact, eating a diet consisting of gluten and moderate to high carbohydrates are among the most potent and rapid ways to stimulate inflammation in the body. We are all becoming more and more aware of inflammation's heavy influence with regard to all chronic diseases, including disorders of the brain, gut, immune system and joints. These two foods, gluten and carbohydrates, dramatically inflate inflammation in the body. Knowing this empowering fact, you would think this knowledge would be enough to drive us away from the sesame bagels, blueberry muffins, puffy crusted pizza, ice cold beer and fluffy breads.
But, it's not, in fact, not even close and this is why...
Dr. Christine Zioudrou and her colleagues at NIH (The National Institute of Health) performed a study to see what happens to the body after we eat bread or other wheat-containing products. Her results are astounding!
Dr. Zioudrou and her team found that substances in wheat (certain polypeptides) cross the blood-brain barrier (not all substances cross this protective barrier), meaning many substances in wheat gain access to the brain soon after eating. As these wheat polypeptides cross into the brain, Dr Zioudrou and her colleagues found that they bind to the exact same receptor sites in the brain as opiate drugs. This so clearly demonstrates our obsession and quite literal addiction to wheat and why we have trouble saying "no" to bread, pasta and cookies.
Has your child ever screamed bloody murder for pizza? Have you ever had a pining for pasta, a turkey sandwich or blueberry bagel? Well, now we know why-the people who eat these foods are wheat and gluten addicts.
To put the icing on the cake, I couldn't end this post without mentioning wheats profound impact on blood sugar. Many people think only diabetics have to worry about blood sugar levels-this is very false. Diabetic or not, your pancreas is hit hard whenever you consume sugar, carbs or grains. It doesn't matter if it's Wonder Bread, whole wheat bread or multi-grain anything-they all raise blood sugar levels to very dangerous levels.
Most of us are familiar with the GI (glycemic index) which measures how much a certain food will raise one's blood sugar upon eating - 0 being not at all and 100 (glucose) being immediate blood sugar rush upon eating. When people are asked, what food raises GI or blood sugar levels the most, a snickers bar, a tablespoon of white sugar, a slice of whole wheat bread or a banana-they often guess incorrectly. What is your guess?
The answer: a slice of whole wheat bread with a GI of a whopping 72.
Complex carbohydrates including multi-grain breads, whole wheat pizza crusts, shredded wheat and whole grain anything is not any better for us than the alternative. People vouch for whole wheat due to its higher fiber and vitamin content however, these vitamins are synthetic and cannot be absorbed and the fiber in these products stretches the colon to undesirable lengths. Add in the fact that consuming whole wheat products spike blood sugar to dangerous levels and we've just found another product that our medical professionals and government officials flamboyantly recommend for it's "heart healthy" benefits. Remember, these are the same people who once told us that conventional cigarette smoking wasn't harmful to our health (insert eye roll emoji).
Consuming wheat and other gluten products significantly impacts the well-being of everyone who comes into contact with the stuff. With research studies just in demonstrating that individuals with type II diabetes have a 4-fold increase in developing Alzheimers, we'd likely all be a lot healthier if we ditched the wheat and instead, ate real brain supportive, blood sugar balancing foods containing an abundance of saturated animal fats and cholesterol. Foods containing these nutrients raise blood sugar levels to a whole zero sparing your pancreas, brain, gut, your inflammatory pathways and your longevity.
Gluten and wheat products dangerously raise blood sugar levels setting the stage for type II diabetes, Alzheimers and drastically increases inflammation in the body. This is your body on gluten...any questions?
Want to start cooking Primal Foods in your kitchen? Grab your copy of The Primal Foods Recipe eBook to start eating nourishing, gluten-free foods that help re-balance and support your entire well-being (DYK that high-fat, low-carb foods naturally help to stabilize blood sugar levels, decrease inflammation and support brain well-being?!?)
Heathar is a primal foods enthusiast and expert. She has studied food and nutrition for over 15 years and continues to do so to this day. When Heathar isn't in the kitchen, she's either writing, hiking or doing her primal energetics thing. If you are interested in discovering how Heathar's nutrition work may benefit you, contact her to schedule a free 45-minute phone consultation. Until then, Eat, Live and Be Primal!