The Gut of Gluten

By John Kannenberg

If there ever was a fad food craze, gluten-free diets seems to be one of them! On TV, people who claimed to be on a gluten-free diet were asked what gluten is. So many didn't know! They were on this diet because a friend told them something or they want to appear health-conscious. But if you really are gluten intolerant, it's no laughing matter.

Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, most commonly wheat, barley and rye.

Many people react differently to gluten sensitivity. Various symptoms such as weight loss or gain, yeast infections, itchy skin, diarrhea, irritable bowels, headaches, nervous twitches, and joint pain are experienced. A close friend of mine can tell instantly if a dish has gluten in it. She gets a burning sensation on her lips and mouth. If she eats it, she will feel completely miserable for days.

Even a colleague of mine was diagnosed by a doctor more than 20 years ago as having MS. It turned out to be a gluten allergy, not MS.

There are a number of theories as to why some people react this way to gluten. It may be from the decades-long efforts in the hybridization of wheat to increase gluten content above normal levels. Others suggest pesticide residues may be to blame. Or, it could be something else which basically affects the intestinal flora, causing it to react to gluten. The Human Genome Project has even identified a genetic trait in some people which may cause them to be more gluten intolerant.

What To Do?

Remove all gluten from your diet. This means your usual breads, rolls, cookies, cereals, bagels, cakes, pies, and pastas need to go out the door! Yes, this is a big change in your life! Our mono diets of doughnuts, pizzas, pancakes and the like will need to change.

Replace those typical carbohydrates and starches with glutenless grains such as corn, rice, millet, amaranth, quinoa, sorghum, and even certified gluten-free oats. Increasing potato and sweet potato consumption will fill this void as well.

Because you now have a condition, you need to be doubly sure you are eating well in all other areas of your life. Subtracting one food from your diet will need to be replaced by another. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and mushrooms should be eaten of liberally.

As always, learn to read labels. Any time you see anything made with wheat flour in all its forms, avoid. Some people are even sensitive to the little bit of fermented wheat flour in soy sauce! Of course, if you are having digestive issues, the first thing to eliminate is all dairy products. So many will find that their digestive issues resolve themselves by taking this one step.

You Do Have Options

Many products are now available for the gluten intolerant. Corn and rice pastas come in all shapes and sizes. Many gluten-free breads are made with tapioca starch, rice flour and eggs. These are very processed foods but they do work in a pinch. Discover interesting grain products made from millet and oats.

John's hot gluten-free tips:

  • Discover unique recipes and products for gluten free living.
  • Even if you're not intolerant, eat a wider variety of grains other than just always processed wheat flour.
  • Be proactive! Don't wait for a miracle cure.
  • Ask your doctor for testing of this condition