The gluten free movement is one of the fastest growing diets today. You’ve probably noticed the trend sneaking into your own community.
Your trusty bakery is starting to serve gluten free bread, or perhaps you’ve seen whole restaurants dedicated to eradicating wheat.
The cute boutique on the corner? Their cupcakes are made out of coconut flour. The option is even starting to appear on the menus of trusty pizza chains.
So what gives? What is this radical movement that threatens to take away the life-bread of our treasured culinary delights?
Here’s the skinny in five quick points.
What is gluten anyway?
Gluten is a protein. It makes your doughs rise and it makes your crusts fluffy.
It is in wheat, barley, rye, most types of oats, and derivatives of these grains, including yeast.
Foods Containing Gluten
Think of all the bagels, all the cakes, all the pasta. All are guilty of having gluten. Even products such as soap, pet food, and craft supplies can contain gluten.
I know your next question: If this ever-pervasive protein has been around for decades, what’s the big problem?
And I answer you this: genetics. The basic human diet has evolved over a period of about two million years. Think of the generations and generations of our hunter-gatherer past.
A diet of wild plants, nuts, and animal protein sustained humanity until about the last few thousand years. At that point humans began to consume grains in the form of wild grasses and seeds, and for a very long time even this was very minimal.
In these last few thousands of years, our hunter-gatherer lifestyles have given way to more and more agricultural practices.
These wild grasses have been mutated, boosted, and processed into the grain products that we are familiar with today. So, in the two million year evolution of our genetics, the grains we ingest today are actually fairly new.
And, yes, perhaps they are around for a reason. They serve as fairly inexpensive sources of energy, they can be stored for long periods of time, and for both of these reasons, they serve as an effective way of feeding huge populations.
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Why would anyone choose to live without bread?
You’ve reached the part of the article where gluten-filled grains start to go a little sour.
There are a number of conditions and diseases which have to do with a diet of gluten.
The first and most obvious is celiac disease.
You know, that bummer friend growing up who always had to have special bread, couldn’t eat your birthday cake, and basically was a huge chore to cook for?
They probably had celiac disease — they and about 330,000 Australians according to www.coeliac.org.au.
This disease is easy to ignorantly write-off as someone being extremely picky (or in worse cases, extremely flatulent), but the condition is, in fact, very serious.
- weight loss
- Stunted growth
- Neurological problems
- Low bone density and the softening of bones (osteomalacia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis)
- Low levels of calcium and vitamin D
- And in extreme cases, Gastrointestinal cancer
Another obvious problem one could have is a wheat allergy. Here, hives or other allergic breakouts appear after ingestion.
So, no hives, no severe health issues? Before you think you are in the clear, consider also the fact that a huge percentage of people exist on a spectrum of gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity.
These people experience abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence after ingesting gluten. Even if the symptoms seem to be mild enough, a life-time of gluten intolerance can cause irreparable damage to your intestinal lining.
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Why is life without gluten is worth your consideration?
The good thing is, more and more people are making the switch to gluten free, which means more options for this lifestyle appear every day.
Are you an avid cook? Consider the gluten free diet as a way to flex your creative muscles.
You have plenty of gluten free cooking options including:
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Guar gum
- Pea flour
- Potato flour
- Soy flour
Each has a texture, consistency, and life of its own, and is waiting for you to discover its vital potential. You might even find, as I did, that you prefer coconut flour quiche crusts to regular wheat flour.
Are you not an avid cook? Find one! Or find the plethora of options that spring up every day for new gluten free clientele.
As it is the fastest growing diet trend, everyone including restaurateurs are getting wise to gluten free.
Before you go making a sad list of foods banned on your new diet, check out all of your options.
A gambit of everything from gluten free beer to gluten free bread is available. More and more internet sights make quick and cheap delivery of gluten free products available and you can probably already find many options in your local grocery store.
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Cheers all around!
So maybe you don’t have celiacs and your pretty sure you’re on the low-end of any kind of sensitivity.
But before you return to your gluten-y baked goods, consider the positive effects of detoxification when you follow the gluten free lifestyle.
You don’t have to have celiacs to benefit. Gluten free converts experience alleviation of gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, headaches (including migraines), iron deficiency, joint and muscle pain, tingly hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy), osteoporosis, and even unexplained infertility.
Cleansing gluten from your palate also helps one with weight control and skin conditions.
A gluten free diet has also successfully been applied to aid in the treatment of:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Thyroid disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
And it makes sense. If you really think about what it means to take gluten out of your diet, you’ll realize that you’ll be filling those calories with a lot of other foods — mainly fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, beans and legumes.
What do all of these foods have in common? They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy animal fats. By excluding one group of food from your diet, you are welcoming in a plethora of great nutritional resources without even trying.
Didn’t think you had a problem with gluten before? You will be feeling so good with this new diet, that you will never want to go back.
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So, who is gluten free, anyway?
As agricultural practices go further and further in the direction of a grain-heavy diet, more and more people will be forced to quit gluten by celiacs or sensitivity.
Today 1 in 33 Americans and 1 in 70 Australians have been diagnosed with celiacs.
The disease is genetic and the only remedy is a gluten free diet. The more these numbers grow, the more obvious our problem is with our sordid love of grains.
As more and more people (celiac or not) realize the err in their kitchen, more and more options for a gluten free lifestyle appear, and more and more health problems go away.
Think about the health benefits of cutting this one element out of your day.
Perhaps you, too, have something to gain from avoiding gluten-filled grains.