Are You A Glutton For Gluten?
Everyone has heard something about the dangers of “gluten,” yet few people really know what it is. Most people know it has something to do with wheat products, but seem confused about the topic. If that sounds like someone you know, read on!
What you’re about to read in the next 5 minutes will shock you. So, let’s start with the basics!
Wheat gluten is a worldwide cultivated grass from the Levant area of the Middle East. Globally, maize (corn) is the most produced food among the cereal crops; wheat is second and rice ranks third.
80% of US spring wheat comes from Montana, N. Dakota and S. Dakota. 3.5 million acres of spring wheat (other than durum) are planted in Montana every year, representing about 60% of total wheat plantings.
There Are Three Parts of a Wheat Kernel:
(Consider a typical bushel of wheat weighs 60 pounds.)
- Endosperm: Separated, the endosperm (50 pounds) is the source of white flour and contains the greatest portion of protein, carbs, iron and major B-vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin and thiamine. On average, 45 pounds of flour are milled from 50 pounds of endosperm. The remaining 5 pounds of endosperm is used for livestock feed.
- Bran: The bran (8.3 pounds) is included in whole wheat flour or marketed separately, and contains small amounts of protein, trace minerals, dietary fibers and B vitamins.
- Germ: The wheat germ (1.5 pounds) is the embryo or sprouting section of the seed. It has a high fat content (10%) that if not separated from endosperm during flour production, causes dough to be unmanageable.
The endosperm is composed of thin-walled starchy cells. This starch contains “gluten particles” that provide the stickiness in dough. Although endosperm has most of the protein, its protein quality is lower than in the bran and germ because it is less concentrated.
Keep in mind, gluten is almost 80% protein. But, as you’ll see, not all proteins are created equal.
Obviously, high quality wheat grows very well in the Dakotas and Montana. That’s because they have the right soils, temperatures and provide ideal semi-arid (dry) conditions. This is important because a wet rainy season results in wheat growing with lower protein (gluten) content, which is not good for the bakery business.
A lower protein content means lower gluten, and gluten is what makes dough sticky to work with. Different levels of stickiness are needed to produce specialty products, which is why “adding gluten” is necessary.
So, not only does gluten “enrich” many foods with protein, wheat gluten is also used for binding and texturizing purposes in many different foods.
Without gluten, hamburger buns would crumble and hotdog bun hinges would break, in turn ruining millions of picnics and back yard BBQ’s around the world.
When we break it down, we find gluten is made of two main proteins:
- Glutenin creates the elastic quality of vital wheat gluten: makes dough tough.
- Gliadin, the smaller protein molecule, dissolves in water and other liquids including alcohol, and is responsible for the syrupy properties of wheat gluten. Too much will make bread dough overly expansive. Gliadin is also used in cosmetics and personal care products
FACT: The smaller gluten protein, gliadin, is a trigger of many health problems.
These molecules breakdown even further inside your body and create “opium-like proteins” called “gluteomorophins,” which can enter your brain and cause all kinds of havoc. Gluten, containing glutamate crosses the blood-brain barrier irritating and damaging brain cells as an “excitotoxin.”
Gluten Is One Of Many Plant Anti-Nutrients
Fact is certain foods are good for you and other foods can actually do harm. Gluten is one of these harmful foods.
Unsprouted grains were in the “do-not-eat” category until about a hundred years ago when we really started eating so many refined grains.
About 10,000 years ago our ancestors learned the importance of sprouting, soaking and cooking grains to neutralize the plant toxins so they would be safe to eat. But, somewhere along the way that knowledge was almost lost.
Our ancient ancestors knew that grains, beans and potatoes could be toxic if not prepared properly. Another word for these plant toxins is “anti-nutrients,” or phyto-toxins.
All Food Has Intelligent Design
Edible vegetables and fruits depend on us to eat them to spread their seeds around. However, a grain like wheat, rye and kamut are seeds in themselves and if eaten, they cannot sprout up new plants.
That’s why Mama Nature has given grains built-in natural pesticide and fungicide defenses.
Grains have evolved “enzyme blockers” that stop them from sprouting until they fall unto fertile ground having the right conditions. These same powerful enzyme blockers can neutralize your digestive enzymes as well1. Besides gluten, other anti-nutrients found in plants are “phytates, glycoalkaloids and lectins (wheat germ agglutinin).”
Gluten protein, phytates and lectins are defense chemicals for the wheat plant tribe, intelligently designed to repel outside threats from fungus, mold and pests.
Unfortunately, gluten protein is created to be difficult for people to digest, so it builds up inside your cells blocking normal body functions, and causing the immune system to attack itself (auto-immune dis-ease).
Gluten Can Trigger Critical Diseases
If you are gluten sensitive, you should know that gliadin, found in wheat protein, is also found in other grains like European spelt, rolled rye and barley corns.
This seemingly innocent protein can cause an autoimmune disorder in your small intestine called, Celiac disease.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a large study pointing out that people with diagnosed, undiagnosed and “latent” Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, had a higher risk of death, mostly from heart disease and cancer.2
Some of the first symptoms of Celiac disease are:
- Abdominal cramping/bloating
- Gluten ataxia (brain damage)
- Mouth sores
- Muscle cramping
- Night blindness
- Tooth enamel defects
- Edema (swelling)
- Weight loss
Naturally, having any — let alone a combination of these symptoms — can also lead to depression, irritability and an inability to concentrate.
Gluten can cause your body’s immune system to attack itself, as well as inflame the sensitive lining of your small intestine triggering complications from lack of nutrition to boot.
Gluten sensitivity (Celiac disease) blocks absorption of nutrients causing:
- Amenorrhea (the cessation of a woman’s menstrual cycle)
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Bone disease
- Hyperparathyroidism (over activity of the parathyroid glands)
- Growth failure in children
- Attention Deficit Disorder
Unfortunately, the list goes on and on.
This is exactly why leading physicians blame gluten sensitivity for many mysterious diseases that get misdiagnosed or just go undetected.
Another study compared the blood of 10,000 people from 50 years ago and compared them to 10,000 people today.3
What they found will shock you!
The number of people with Celiac disease increased by 400% in 50 years! 2 Presently, about 1 in 100 people (or 3,000,000 Americans) suffer from Celiac disease and many don’t know it.
Other diseases caused from eating gluten are:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Nerve damage
- Also linked to autism. 3,4,5,6,7
So, what can you do now?
There’s no doubt that dining in a world addicted to processed, refined and frozen foods can make eating healthy a challenge. What we do know is when people stop eating unsprouted grains or uncooked grains, Celiac symptoms gradually vanish.
In fact, some highly autistic children have experienced a complete or near-complete remission of symptoms, simply by removing yeast and gluten from the diet.
But, what if you like to eat bread? Well, that’s where ancient wisdom saves the day.
Dietary Wisdom From Our Ancestors
The Roman soldiers were known to live off from bread and water. So, if bread from grains is so bad for you, how did they have the strength and endurance to nearly conquer the entire known world back then?
The secret is they eat “sour dough fermented rye bread.”
Could it be that fermentation breaks down the gluten found in grains?
The answer is YES it does! PLUS, it also breaks down the other anti-nutrients that block the absorption of minerals and enzyme function.
Be careful to buy only “slow-fermented” sourdough bread. Many commercially packaged breads labeled “sourdough” isn’t slow-fermented the old fashioned way from “mother dough.” They often use sour flavoring agents instead.
Get sourdough bread from a baker who uses a proper sourdough starter.9
After extensive research, I am convinced that eating a moderate amount of properly soaked, sprouted and sourdough fermented grains can be part of a good diet, even if you are gluten sensitive.
Soaking grains in warm water also neutralizes enzyme anti-nutrients, present in all grains, and stimulates the creation of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these good enzymes also increases the amount of many vitamins, especially B vitamins.
In India, rice and lentils are fermented for at least two days. In Africa, corn (a grain), millet and teff (an annual grass) are fermented for several days. Mexican corn cakes are fermented for up to two weeks. In Europe, grains were fermented for several days.10 Don’t forget: soy beans are fermented to make tofu.
Another example is Ezekiel 4:9® sprouted breads. Because of the fermentation process, this bread provides an almost perfect protein, right up there with meat. I don’t know what the gluten content is, but I bet it’s pretty low. Plus, it’s naturally packed with living vitamins and minerals, too.
A final alternative for any “gluten gluttons” out there looking for a delicious source of gluten-free nutrition is “mesquite powder11.” It’s hard to find, but if you ask your local health food store they can order it.
I discovered Mesquite flour when I moved to the Sonora desert in Arizona about 20 years ago. The Sonora desert is only biologically “living” desert on earth. I’m told there are more than 5,000 different species of plants there and mesquite was one of the most valued crops for the ancient Hohokam Indians and other indigenous peoples of the area.
Mesquite flour replaces regular white flour or whole wheat flour, cup for cup. Mesquite flour is a delicious, low-glycemic flour that’s rich in protein (17%), micronutrients and 100% gluten free!
Try mixing this super food in with a protein shake to add a nutritional boost along with its sweet, healthful nutty flavor.
(1) Bandani AR (2005). “Effect of plant a-amylase inhibitors on sunn pest, Eurygaster integriceps Puton (Hemiptera: Scutelleridae), alpha-amylase activity”. Commun. Agric. Appl. Biol. Sci. 70 (4): 869–73. PMID 16628930.
(2) Ludvigsson JF, Montgomery SM, Ekbom A, Brandt L, Granath F. Small-intestinal histopathology and mortality risk in celiac disease. JAMA. 2009 Sep 16;302(11):1171-8.
(3) Rubio-Tapia A, Kyle RA, Kaplan EL, Johnson DR, Page W, Erdtmann F, Brantner TL, Kim WR, Phelps TK, Lahr BD, Zinsmeister AR, Melton LJ 3rd, Murray JA. Increased prevalence and mortality in undiagnosed celiac disease. Gastroenterology. 2009 Jul;137(1):88-93
(4) Sedghizadeh PP, Shuler CF, Allen CM, Beck FM, Kalmar JR. Celiac disease and recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a report and review of the literature. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2002;94(4):474-478.
(5) Margutti P, Delunardo F, Ortona E. Autoantibodies associated with psychiatric disorders. Curr Neurovasc Res. 2006 May;3(2):149-57. Review.
(6) Ludvigsson JF, Reutfors J, Osby U, Ekbom A, Montgomery SM. Coeliac disease and risk of mood disorders–a general population-based cohort study. J Affect Disord. 2007 Apr;99(1-3):117-26. Epub 2006 Oct 6.
(7) Ludvigsson JF, Osby U, Ekbom A, Montgomery SM. Coeliac disease and risk of schizophrenia and other psychosis: a general population cohort study. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2007 Feb;42(2):179-85.
(8) Hu WT, Murray JA, Greenaway MC, Parisi JE, Josephs KA. Cognitive impairment and celiac disease. Arch Neurol. 2006 Oct;63(10):1440-6.
(9) Nanna A. Cross; Corke, Harold; Ingrid De Leyn; Nip, Wai-Kit (2006). Bakery products: science and technology. Oxford: Blackwell. p. 551. ISBN 0-8138-0187-7.
(10) Fallon, Sally with Enig, Mary. Nourishing Traditions, The cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Second edition. New Trends Publishing, Inc. Washington, DC 20007. 1999-2001.
(11) Navitas Naturals, Mesquite Power, organic mesquite powder.