I’m sure by now most people have heard of the Gluten-Free Diet. Most grocery stores now carry gluten-free products but what exactly is it?
It is estimated that man began baking bread about 30,000 years ago. Prehistoric bread consisted of flatbread made from dried, powdered roots cooked on hot rocks. The introduction of yeast allowed our ancestors to make different types of bread other than flatbread. Refined flour was originally hand ground and made coarse whole grain bread. Yet, the desire for the whitest flour leads to filtering out the bran and the germ and bleaching the flour.
If humans have been eating bread and grain products for thousands of years, why are so many people suddenly avoiding it?
In wheat, barley, and rye there is a naturally occurring protein called gluten. Gluten acts like a glue and helps food keep its shape. The most common foods that contain gluten are bread, cereal, and pasta. These things are major staples in many diets.
Gluten-free diets have become a popular diet to lose weight, however, there is no evidence that if you stop eating gluten specifically you will lose weight. Instead, many people who choose to drop gluten to lose weight will often take up eating more fruits, vegetables, and meats instead of grain products. A better diet to look at would be a Paleo Diet which focuses on foods that are believed to have been eaten by early humans, which does eliminate grains.
However, it doesn’t stop here. The gluten-free diet is not just a fad diet but something that people have to be on due to celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder estimated to affect 1 in 100 people. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten their immune system responds by attacking their small intestine. When the small intestine is attacked and damaged, it keeps their body from getting all the nutrients it needs. Undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can cause some serious health problems.
A blood test and biopsy of the small intestine are the most common ways for diagnosis of celiac disease.
The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet as there is no cure and people cannot grow out of it. Consulting with an experienced doctor and dietitian is the best way to start a gluten-free diet.
Gluten sensitivity, or gluten intolerance, is different from celiac disease. Both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease have similar symptoms, but a sensitivity to gluten will not cause damage to the small intestine.
A gluten sensitivity cannot be diagnosed with a blood test or biopsy. The best way to test for gluten sensitivity is to go through an elimination diet. An elimination diet will, in this case, remove all products from your diet that contains gluten. After the period of a month or so the gluten will be reintroduced back into your diet to see if the issue stops or reoccurs. This is best done under the supervision of a doctor.
There is also no cure for a gluten sensitivity so a gluten-free diet is also used to treat this.
Products That Contain Gluten
- Baked goods
I don’t have Celiac Disease or a Gluten Intolerance, so bread’s okay for me, right?
This is not necessarily true. Humans may have been eating bread and grain products for thousands of years but that doesn’t mean it good for us.
Most bread today is made of bleached, filtered white flour in which all the nutrients have been stripped from. It also has added sugars and other harmful ingredients in it.
While white bread is the worst thing you could eat in the terms of bread, wheat bread is not much better. When the bran, germ, and endosperm is removed from the flour it makes the flour lack nutrition. White flour does not have any of these and wheat bread doesn’t have all of them. However, whole grain does.
Whole grain, sprouted bread are the “healthiest” bread. They have all the nutrition from the grain still in it. If you find the right bread it may also be lower in sugars and preservatives.
All in all, you should not rely on bread as your main means of obtaining the nutrition your body needs. Nothing can beat fresh produce.
WHAT IS GLUTEN?
The Surprising Truth About Gluten-Free Food and Weight Loss
A Brief History of Bread
Is Bread Bad For Your Health?
Bread: is bread bad for you?