Monday, October 17, 2011

Gluten and Grains- Part 2

(I know I promised this post yesterday, but things get so busy when Zach is away! Anyway, here it is now.)

My grandma recently sent me an article with this staggering statistic, "A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examined 30,000 patients from 1969 to 2008. It categorized their cause of death into three groups: Those with celiac disease, those with gluten-induced intestinal inflammation (but not celiac) and those with gluten sensitivity. There was a 39 percent increased rate of death in those with celiac disease, 72 percent increased risk in those with gluten-related gut inflammation and 35 percent increased risk in those with gluten sensitivity!" Clearly we are not just talking about a bloated belly or minor cramps. Inside our intestines and gut lining, gluten is doing things much worse. 

Gluten is a naturally occurring protein in wheat, but during the processing, it is taken out. Man-made gluten is added back in to wheat foods. In some products, it is added back in double than what would occur naturally. This is what is irritating our bodies and what our bodies cannot digest. As a reminder of what gluten does once it enters your body, it flattens you intestinal villi which makes small holes in your intestine (a term called "leaky gut syndrome") and that lets particles of your food leech into your blood stream.

In doing my research and reading up on gluten, I actually found some surprising studies about grains. Now when you tell people you don't eat doughnuts, they generally understand. When you say you can't eat gluten, people accept that. When you say you try to avoid all grain, THEN you get the weird glances and the perplexed questions like "you don't eat whole grain bread???"  Well I would if the real thing still existed. The fact is, it doesn't.

The version of wheat we consume today is not naturally grown wheat, unfortunately. It is a product of genetic engineering. 

Ok, I'll try to summarize this the best I can.

Grains contain phytic acid, a mineral blocker that prevents absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Phytic acid is also found in nuts and seeds. Grains consumed in the Bible or "pioneer times" were allowed to sit in the fields for several weeks before thrashing. After it was gathered, it would sit in the barn or outside for anywhere to several days to several weeks until it was ground and consumed. This allowed the grains to be exposed to the elements and to sprout. Sprouting your grains breaks down the phytic acid. Unfortunately, grains today are not sprouted, harvested quickly and are consumed in much larger quantities than ever before. Flour, a staple in every household today, used to be considered a luxury. Grain consumption has doubled in the last 50 years!

Now, if you do as I suggested in the previous post, cut out gluten/grains for just one month, you'll notice that you feel so much better, have more energy, and less bloating or that sluggish feeling after meals. If you don't notice any change and add grains back in after a month, I definitely recommend soaking your grains to break up that phytic acid and help your body to absorb it better. However, the fact still stands that the wheat we use today in the United States (and Europe, but not so much places like Egypt or the Middle East), has been genetically altered, genetically modified on the cellular level starting with the seeds.  The wheat and breads and pastas we consumed are basically man-made. Our variety of wheat does not occur naturally and would not ever be found growing in the wild. It has been genetically altered to be able to grow vast amounts in a short amount of time without being affected by bugs and insects and weather conditions. All these changes, though, also make this plant simply undigestible to the human body.

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