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You Eat Gluten? How Could You!?

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

  • Dawn Lovisa

    Good information and discussion but if a person has celiac disease, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or an auto-immune disorder, not eating gluten is really important!

  • Joan M. Baggs

    Dawn, that is exactly Andrea’s point! Bio-individuality!

  • Carrie

    Right on Andrea! I just wrote a similar blog post myself (I eat gluten too)! Gluten-free does not automatically mean good for you!

  • Diane Leddy

    I don’t have a problem with wheat, hell I’m Italian and I love bread and pasta (in moderation of course). I eat well (I’m an IIN graduate), I limit the use and exposure to toxins as much as I can in and on my body (I use my Young Living Essential Oils and good, whole foods as my medicine) but the wheat we have here is something to be desired and isn’t anything like it was years ago (as we know). I am careful what I buy and yes, in moderation always 🙂 I am not gluten free but I watch what I buy. Bio individuality for sure 🙂

  • fredhahn

    Well…Some of you say is absolutely true. And a healed gut can tolerate more abuse than a gut that is compromised. Still, abusing it with genetically modified wheat and other grain products is not a great idea. We did not evolve to eat these foods.

    As for humans eating these foods for thousands of years, this is true. But thousands of years ago is precisely when we began to develop autoimmune disorders, tooth decay and other diseases of civilization.

    Traditionally prepared sourdough is gluten free I do believe so its no wonder it had no effect on people with celiacs.

    This is not to mention that we did not evolve to eat much more than 5-10 grams of sugar per meal. Any more than this is toxic (like too much alcohol) and the body has to work to bring BS down and fast. Food for thought at least.

    Keep up the great work Andrea! Love your stuff.

  • MooreBetterFood

    Well said Andrea! Celiac disease is serious business, but jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon is a fad that
    too many are jumping on without understanding the facts.

  • The “Cookie Cutter Mentality” makes me angry. You are so right Andrea! Every person IS different. I am an unapologetic gluten eater and omnivore. I was born that way! I do eat as healthy as I can and exercise to stay in shape. If people should avoid anything it is the things made by man, not by God. Chemicals and processed foods do not belong in the human diet! 🙂

  • Oksana

    Hi Andrea, you mentioned that large quantities of almond flour can lead to inflammation and thyroid problems. I can relate from personal experience but wanted to know the bio-chemical connection. Is it just high Omega 6s (vs Omega 3) in almonds you are referring to? Or there is more to it? It does scare me when I see Paleo recipes crammed with ground cashews, almonds, seeds – all higher in 6s vs 3s. Kind of defeats the purpose when it comes to inflammation….

    • @disqus_o6Za0cUTTs:disqus – how can you relate? Did you develop inflammation and thyroid troubles? It could be from the high amount of Omega 6, but what I was referring to is the proper processing of nuts and seeds. They need to be soaked, skins removed and roasted, to be more beneficial for us. Almond skins can be highly irritating to the intestines, as well as contain high levels of anti nutrients.

      • Oksana

        Thank you so much for your reply. I went a bit Paleo crazy about this time last year. All grain free and heavy on nuts and seeds. And everything went downhill from there. I’ve had under active thyroid for 5 years and all the symptoms worsened (weight, energy, hair loss, body temperature that I was measuring every day for months.. ). Could have been other factors in play. I went on Paleo because there were “inflammatory markers” in my blood test in the first place.
        I can’t put my finger on it but feel that grain-free diet may not be right for my thyroid issues even though I do soak all nuts and seeds (also grains and legumes). Quite curious about this connection if there is one..

        • Catherine

          Hi Oksana, I feel like I have written your post. I experienced exactly the same as you until I did two extremely long-haul flights in succession. I went to get the ‘ever faithful’ almonds I have always had on hand and there were none in the airport shop! I bought a dark choc instead and went about my journey. I decided while on holiday I would relax about my food choices entirely. Well, what a difference – my hair stopped falling out immediately, I have lost wait, my inflammation is down, blood sugar, everything. Still taking thyroid meds but working on that. My metabolism is awesome and I feel ten hundred times better for NOT eating nuts and seeds, you have no idea! A bit drawn into the gluten-free thing but giving myself a couple of months and then will try sourdough again. So over Paleo and Banting and low-carb too. Andrea’s posts are so informative, just out of my league cost wise at the moment but I learn a lot from her posts regardless!

  • Carmen H

    I have to say I was a little disappointed in this post. 🙁 I feel like there should have been more focus on the fact that most people can’t just eat a “little” gluten and this thinking of making your own etc is clearly for the minority. As addictive as gluten is…. IMO this post seems to tell people (who aren’t true believers that gluten can cause serious damage to the gut, brain, thyroid etc) that a little won’t hurt when most of the time it will. Also keeping in mind that the audience of people who actually will go through the process of making their own bread is pretty small….so what about those who won’t go through that and are at a local bakery one day and say to themselves “OH there’s some sourdough bread! I heard that’s gluten free!” and the cycle of eating gluten begins again. I just saw a lot of holes and missing pieces in this short post. This could have been a good opportunity to lead the seasoned gluten free experts into a yummy new idea instead of the general public getting the permissive “go ahead and eat it!” message I got from this. Also Xanthum Gum though not desirable for people with extremely leaky guts is less hazardous than gluten IMO and even that isn’t something I am willing to overdo as a person with AI. http://chriskresser.com/harmful-or-harmless-xanthan-gum

  • jka8168

    Andrea brings up a lot of issues that contribute to confusion around todays gluten. True it has become a fad, unfortunately, because for those huge numbers of folks who cannot handle it today, it is a serious medical diet that must be followed strictly according to research today. Treating it lightly is not a safe decision. Today’s altered gluten is strange, unpredictable and in many cases can eventually be debilitiating and lethal for many many people. Be aware that “vili damaged celiac disease” is only one small subset of the autoimmune gluten syndrome scene.

    Here is a detailed referenced article that treats the total picture, including the concerns Andrea brings up. It presents gluten syndrome from a different direction than the typical story presented in the news today. I hope it is helpful.

    http://www.theglutensyndrome.net/MolecularMimicryFINAL.pdf

    Further questions, discussion? email is jka8168@sbcglobal.net and website is http://www.TheGlutenSyndrome.net

    Blessings,
    Mrs. Olive Kaiser

    NOTE: I help with a local Weston Price chapter and am very familiar with that awesome foundation.

  • I agree! I love this! So many in the health field are riding this no gluten wave that you really stand out if you do eat/ recommend gluten! I was off gluten for about a year due to digestive troubles (and stress), but was able to reverse those and can eat gluten again.

    • @chanelleneilson:disqus Congratulations on reversing your digestive troubles! Good job taking care of yourself! Keep up the great work!

  • Sunny

    I am from Germany, where bread is a main staple of our diet. However, most of our breads (that all contain gluten!) are traditionally made, using real sourdough, ‘baking ferment’, and whole grain flours. When I moved to the States, I simply couldn’t find breads that were truly traditional whole grain breads and that were prepared without any additives. Not even at Whole Foods…! So, what is a family to do that eats a lot of bread? Right – we ‘caved in’ and bought the best choice available. However, within a few years’ time we all started having issues, and we seemed to react to gluten (I will not go into details to keep this short(er) 😉 ).

    In Germany, we followed a so-called “Whole Grain & Food Diet” and usually began our day with a fresh grain muesli (3T of coarsely milled wheat or spelt were soaked in some water overnight; in the morning, one would add one grated apple (or other fruit), some activated nuts, and 1T of heavy cream), which gave energy for hours on end and we never experienced any ‘sugar crashes’…. I can honestly say that we had no negative side effects from eating whole grains (as long as it was either pre-soaked or prepared in a traditional way), to the contrary, we were as healthy and energetic as it can be! Within a few years here in the States, our diet had changed quite a bit (I totally fell for ‘low carb / no grain’ media hype) , and the robust health of all of my family changed as well: my kids got colds and stomach viruses, and my husband and I experienced minor but persistent health issues.

    I’m so glad to have come across Andrea’s information, which now allows me to eat grains with a good conscience, again. I just had my fresh grain muesli – yum!!!

    • @Sunny – I LOVE your story. It’s perfect and true. You and your family felt the effects of eating grains that haven’t been properly processed and then you went back to your traditional ways of eating them and you all feel better. Very wise! Keep up the GREAT work listening to your body.

  • Sunny

    Oh, I forgot to add that I now bake all my breads with sprouted flours – this also makes a major difference in digestibility. Even if I sometimes don’t use sourdough and make a simple loaf of yeast leavened bread, my family and I don’t have any issues…I guess that since the grains were sprouted, dehydrated and then milled into flour, this process must have also gotten rid of whatever usually causes trouble with gluten…. (?)

  • Deborah

    Well my husband & I are both sensitive to gluten. We might splurge on a special occasion, but gluten does not agree with us. If you like gluten, that’s fine. Whatever works for each person.

  • Esther

    Andrea, I love they way you encourage people to educate themselves! For someone with hashimotos would you encourage a person to experiment with sourdough or to first try to get antibodies into remission? Also, what do you think about juice fasting with hashi’s?

  • Barbara Slegers-Hudson

    As a society, too many of our meals use wheat as its foundation. It’s our go-to for many meals and snacks. Balance is what is more important, in my opinion. Opening the door to other great food options as our base and then adding to that is maybe a better way to go for some people. As you said, bio-individuality is our mantra!

  • saba jackson

    I so enjoy reading your posts Andrea – every single one of them. I suffered with chronic Crohns and fixed it through diet and meditation. But now that I have self- healed, I can’t imagine life without my home made hot gluten filled chapattis smothered in home made ghee with a cup of strong tea for breakfast. But the difference is that the flour I use is from an ancient wheat grain sourced from a local farmer. It’s all about taking responsibility for the source of our food and then trusting ourselves with it. Not following the sheep. I leave my dough to ferment for a couple of hours and then roll out the hot chappatis. No bloating at all…. Love it. That’s the beauty of bio-individuality and taking total responsibility for our health.

    • @saba jackson – thank you for sharing. Your homemade chapattis smothered in ghee sound like my kinda bread!

  • Pat Mayer

    Thank you , thank you, thank you, Andrea for a refreshing and thoughtful piece on this fad.

  • Cynthia Robinson

    Great article… I buy my bread from Bridgewater Village Bakery at my local Farmer’s Market. Breads, goodies ALL made from organiic sprouted wheat sourdough bread, baked in wood fired brick ovens… her Olive Loaf bread is the best, brownies are amazing… not too sweet!, then there are her oatmeal, chocolate chip w/walnuts, home made graham crackers, cheesey crackers that put cheez-its to shame, everything crackers, herbed olive oil dip… hand made spinach & Feta rolls… she is amazing!

    • @Cindy_Lu_457:disqus you are making me hungry! That all sounds totally delicious.