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Why Be Gluten-Free?

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Why Be Gluten-Free?

The real truth about this gooey problem.
Dr. Dena  Mendes
Dr. Dena Mendes More by this author
Jul 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM

The common misconception is that you stop the consumption of wheat and gluten only if a medical professional has diagnosed you with celiac disease. Being gluten intolerant is not the only reason to stay away from this mucus/inflammatory causing substance.

What exactly is gluten? I like to keep the definition simple: It’s the glue that gunks up your gut, intestines, lymphatic system, sinus and joints. This, in turn, creates inflammation, which causes pain along with many of the health-related issues we are facing today including fibromyalgia, arthritis, asthma, ADD, autoimmune dysfunction, irritable bowel, all manner of gut issues, migraines and cancer. Oh, and did I mention that it makes you fat?

For those of you who would like to dig a bit deeper, here is the technical definition: Gluten (from the Latin word glue) is a protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture. Gluten is the composite of a prolamine and gluteline, conjoined with starch, in the endosperm of various grass-related grains. Worldwide, gluten is a source of protein, both in foods prepared directly from sources containing it, and as an additive to foods lacking sufficient protein.

The development of gluten (i.e., enhancing its elasticity) affects the texture of baked goods. Gluten's attainable elasticity is proportional to its content of glutenins with low molecular weights. More development leads to chewier products like pizza and bagels, while less development yields tender baked goods. In general, bread flour is high in gluten while cake flours are low. Kneading promotes the formation of gluten strands and cross-links, so a baked product is chewier in proportion to how much the dough is worked. Increased wetness of the dough also enhances gluten development. Shortening inhibits formation of cross-links, so it is used, along with diminished water and minimal working, when a tender and flaky product, such as piecrust, is desired.

Blah Blah Blah.

As I said, gluten is the glue that is used to preserve food for a longer shelf life. When our great, great grandmother baked homemade bread 100 years ago, it fell apart after a day. Now a day’s bread can sit on our counter for weeks and in the refrigerator for at least a month.

So, where do you find the most gluten? Read the ingredients on your packaged food! This sneaky sticky stuff is in all of our favorite foods—cookies, cakes, pastas, pretzels, crackers, pizza and most bread or baked goods.

Also, it is typically the first ingredient in faux meat products. So buyer beware! The imitation meat professing to be healthy is not only a health hindrance, but also very fattening.

Unfortunately there are some loopholes when labeling foods. Gluten-free standards do not apply to all foods. In the case of foods such as ice cream, ketchup, salad dressing, gluten may be listed as a stabilizing agent. The health-related consequences from this inflammatory culprit are running rampant. And they don’t just stop with us. Our precious dogs and cats are at risk as well.

Our pets do not fare well under the heavy burden of inflammatory causing foods that are loaded with glutinous and biochemically-engineered ingredients. More dogs than ever before are being diagnosed with all manifestations of disease including cancer. Most pet foods do not have clear labeling and can be misleading. The protein content in your dog’s food may be enhanced by adding gluten or other dangerous chemicals such as MSG.

4 Facts to Get Gluten-Free:

  1. You need a certain amount of carbohydrates for brain development. These can be attained by eating greens and high quality animal protein/fat. You could live the rest of your life and never eat another packaged carbohydrate containing wheat and gluten. You wouldn’t miss it and you’d be a lot healthier.
  2. Carbohydrates are more addicting than cocaine or heroine. The rush you get from a sticky, gooey cinnamon bun can create such a high, you might do whatever it takes to get another one in a few hours. The sad part is that you’ll never be satiated by this empty relationship. Carbs can have such catastrophic side effects including permanently slowing your metabolism, numbing your senses and preventing healthy brain development.
  3. Every popular diet today is all about eliminating killer carbs and adding the fat back. You need good quality fats such as avocados and olive oil for your body and brain to work most efficiently. You will never need pasta or cereal (packaged carbohydrates).
  4. Until the government began making recommendations for your daily diet requirements by telling you that your diet should be made up of 45-65% carbs, your ancestors lived healthy, happy lives as hunters and gatherers who ate meat, fish, veggies, and fruit.  

When people say, “I am not allergic to wheat and gluten,” my response is: We all are.

Whether you have joint pain, cancer or are simply struggling to lose weight, look at what you eat and drink. Food is always your first line of defense.

About Author
Dr. Dena  Mendes
Dr. Dena Mendes received her degree in Public Health and Broadcast Journalism from Arizona State University, has attended programs at Harvard and Northwestern universities and holds a Doctor of Naturopathy Degree. Dena was introduced to healing a Continue reading