Why Gluten Free

Recently as I read more about a "gluten free" diet, I began to wonder why all of a sudden we want to be gluten free.  After all, man from ancient times learned how to cultivate wheat, rye and barley, all which contain gluten, and make it into flour for breads and tortillas, so why suddenly now are they saying for some of us to stay away from these grains?  Gluten protein is an adhesive like property that can interfere with the breakdown and absorption of other nutrients, resulting in a constipated lump in your gut. Over time it can cause an array of medical problems.  Some of these are rheumatoid arthritis, damaged central nervous system and in rare cases, celiac disease.

Evidently the wheat we consume today is not the same as what our ancestors ate.  Wheat today, like so many of the other foods, has been generically altered to produce a higher yield crop. The proportion of gluten protein is much higher.    

Dr. William Davis discovered quite by accident when treating patients for heart disease, that wheat gluten was a cause of many other health problems.  When he asked patients to eliminate wheat from their diet because of the high sugar content, they also experienced weight loss, relief from acid reflux, gas, cramping, diarrhea, irritable  bowel syndrome, had increased energy, more stable moods, deeper sleep, relief from arthritis, improved cholesterol levels, and improvement in other illnesses.  Gluten allergy can even lead to cancer.  For more information on Dr. William Davis's studies, he has written a book called "Wheat Belly".

So, the next question is how to find out if you have gluten allergy.  The first thing to do is to take all gluten out of your diet for at least 2 to 3 weeks.  By then you should show an improvement on your health.  This might not be as easy as you think because gluten is hidden in many products.  Of course eliminating the obvious like cereal, cookies, cake, gravy, pancake mix, bread and pasta is a start.  Look for these products labeled "gluten free".  Gluten is in many processed foods such as soup, candy, cold cuts and low-fat or no-fat products.  It could be listed in ingredients as malts, starches, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), texturized vegetable protein (TVP), or natural flavoring.  Alcohols such as beer and liquor made with grains like gin, whiskey and some vodkas contain gluten. Celiac.com has a long complete list of foods that contain hidden gluten.

I also found a web site that can be very helpful that lists restaurants in your area that provide a gluten free menu, or stores that offer gluten free foods.  Go to "gluten free registry" and click on your state, then your city.