Hungry woman with breadThat’s the usual reaction I get from folks in the health and wellness communities when I tell them that, “Yes, I do in fact, eat gluten and gluten containing products like bread and noodles.”

It’s usually followed by a look of shock and disgust and this response, “Andrea, you of all people, should know better! Don’t you know how BAD gluten is for you?”

It seems whenever some new concept takes hold of the masses, we are all supposed to fall in line without question.

That’s not the way I roll. I question everything.

Regardless of what anyone tells me, or what the “ever-changing science” surrounding the newest food fad says, I always do a little research on the traditional ways people ate specific foods, and then experiment on myself.

For example, gluten-containing products have been in the human food supply for thousands of years. Asians ate wheat-based noodles, the French ate croissants, people in the middle east ate chapattis and pita bread, and all over Europe various types of bread have been staple foods for centuries. Wheat was even called the “Staff of Life” by the ancient Egyptians.

So, what happened to wheat and other glutinous products to deserve such a bad rap?

The first reason is pretty obvious. The human digestive system has deteriorated over the past 70 years due to large amounts of sugar, highly processed and chemicalized foods, excess stress, lack of chewing (we bite and swallow!), moms not breastfeeding their babies, overuse of antibiotics that destroy intestinal flora, and various other reasons. But, it’s much easier to blame the wheat and gluten for our sudden onslaught of tummy troubles.

As a species, we are destroying our intestinal fortitude. If our digestive system is weak, we simply will NOT be able to process food properly – no matter what it is.

An interesting tidbit is that the gluten in modern wheat, due to the mechanized process of commercially producing mass quantities of bread in the shortest amounts of time, was hybridized to contain higher levels of gluten so it could withstand the mixing pressure of the production process.[1] So, it may not necessarily be the wheat itself causing the trouble, but what we’ve done to it.

For thousands of years humans took time to prepare gluten grains by using a process that required patience: it was called fermentation. Many folks used a sourdough starter that contained wild yeast and several strains of lactobacilli. And, we all know how beneficial lactobacilli can be to a hungry digestive system.

Recent studies by Italian Scientists have shown that traditionally prepared sourdough bread had NO negative effect on the digestive tract of those suffering with celiac disease.[2] For those of you that don’t understand the science behind this amazing phenomenon[3], it’s as simple as this: traditionally processed sourdough bread made with bacterial starter pre-digests the proteins making it easier for us to digest it and more beneficial.[4]

A fluffy loaf of naturally and traditionally leavened sourdough contains flour, water, salt, starter and “time.” That’s it!

I cringe when reading the long list of ingredients on some of those gluten-free breads. Egads! If you don’t already have a digestive problem you are surely going to give yourself one. Sorghum, contained in many gluten-free products can be extremely hard to digest – especially if its not processed properly. Tapioca starch and almond flour, in large quantities (on a daily basis), can lead to inflammation and thyroid troubles. And, xanthan gum, used in many gluten-free products, can cause gastrointestinal distress, lung problems, and blood sugar imbalances.[5]

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think sourdough bread and other gluten containing products are good for everyone, nor do I think they are BAD for everyone.

I personally couldn’t imagine my life without Poached Eggs on Sourdough Toast slathered in grass-fed butter. It’s one of my favorite breakfasts. Dunking crispy sourdough bread into a gooey egg yolk… oh my! It’s a mouthful of bliss.

So, if you are like me, and don’t want to live a gluten-free life, here are five things you may want to consider:

  1. Clean up your daily diet. That means take out all the CRAP that mimics food and eat real food!
  2. Heal your digestive system by incorporating collagen and amino acid rich bone stocks.[6]
  3. Recolonize your intestines with good bacteria by eating sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt.[7]
  4. Chew your food! For goshsakes people… carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth not in the stomach. Read more about that here: Take Human Bites!
  5. Relax and don’t eat the whole loaf. I know once you get that mouthwatering hot-baked bread into your mouth you’ll naturally want to scarf down the entire loaf. Don’t do it! That won’t make you feel good, you’ll be very angry, and will probably curse me to the high heavens for tempting you with BREAD!

I’m sorry to say, I’m not a baker, so I don’t have a personally made sourdough recipe for you. I usually purchase freshly baked breads from my local farmers market or the bakery.

But, if you’re feeling adventurous here’s a Sourdough Bread recipe you can sink your teeth into from the Nourished Kitchen:

No Knead Sourdough

And, for those of you that are gluten-free and would like to remain that way, my hubby created a delicious recipe just for you:

Pablo’s Primal Bacon Bread

Whether you are a gluten-eater or you are gluten-free, always remember to enjoy every bite of the food you are eating no matter what anyone says, including me.

Follow your gut. That’s what matters most.

 

[1] http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-diseases/against-the-grain/

[2] http://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(10)00987-0/abstract

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC348803/

[4] http://fyiliving.com/diet/special-diets/allergies-food-sensitivities/celiacs-can-say-yes-to-sourdough-bread/

[5] http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-340-XANTHAN%20GUM.aspx?activeIngredientId=340&activeIngredientName=XANTHAN%20GUM

[6] http://draxe.com/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/

[7] http://andreabeaman.com/dont-get-stuck-in-a-pickle-just-eat-one/#.U7GBnxZcL4g