The Truth About Gluten

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bread“You’re not gluten intolerant, you’re glyphosate intolerant.” –

This is just one of the theories about why we are seeing an explosion of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. In case you aren’t familiar with the condition celiac, it is an autoimmune condition where the body erodes the lining inside your intestinal tract, making it highly difficult to digest food and absorb nutrients the body needs for proper function. The incidence of celiac disease is on a monumental rise, and so is the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity – a non-autoimmune condition where people feel worse when eating gluten-containing foods.

The theories on why this is happening vary. And yet, it is curious that wheat, a food we have been consuming for centuries, and has been known as the staff of life, is all of a sudden causing problems for many people.

The various possibilities on why gluten can exert a negative effect on the body can be grouped into the following categories:

• The wheat of today is different from ancient wheat – it has been hybridized and has an altered protein structure, possibly containing a much higher percentage of gluten than before.

• The way bread and bread products are prepared does not allow wheat proteins to be predigested, making them harder for us to break down. Historically, bread would be made through a fermentation process where bacteria would have a chance to “predigest” the proteins, thus lessening the demands on our digestive system. Typical bread consumed by Americans today is no longer made this way.

• Consuming wheat is known to trigger a release of chemicals in the digestive tract which can “leak” our intestines – poking tiny holes which should be able to re-close. Some of us are genetically predisposed to not repair this condition as well as others. In addition, when we consume products with wheat frequently, it becomes harder for the body to repair the damage.

• Non-organic wheat is routinely sprayed with glyphosate – the world’s most used herbicide. The World Health Organization has designated this chemical as a “probable human carcinogen” and multiple lawsuits have linked it to cancer. Glyphosate can interfere with many bodily functions; and one of it’s known effects is the disruption of the microbiome – the happy community of bacteria that live in our guts. These critters play an important role in helping us digest our food and protect the rest of the body. Glyphosate also affects digestive enzyme production, damages the absorptive capacity in our intestines and disrupts digestive secretions. This is what the headline above refers to – a dangerous combination of wheat and glyphosate as a possible root cause of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

Time and time again, I have clients who are not reactive to wheat alone. But instead, they are extremely intolerant to glyphosate AND can easily tolerate wheat products in countries that do not spray their crops with glyphosate.

We are continuing to make links in our clinical practice between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. And when this occurs there is also a correlation to sulfur intolerance, as glyphosate interrupts our body’s ability to properly assimilate sulfur-containing foods. Those healthy foods include kale, broccoli, collards, and other cruciferous vegetables, garlic and egg yolks. On top of digestive issues, glyphosate can also disrupt the carrying of our neurotransmitters across our blood-brain barrier so we can use them for sleep and mood regulation. We are having a tremendous rise in mental health conditions, especially in our youth, and gluten could be considered a huge contributing factor. 

So what’s the bottom line? Should we eat wheat?

The answer is…. it depends. Always follow your doctor’s advice. If you have celiac, you must stop all wheat and gluten consumption. And if you don’t, here are some recommendations that would be prudent for everyone to follow:

• Switch from the typical wheat to Einkorn or Kamut (ancient forms of wheat)

• Only consume organic wheat

• Minimize the frequency of wheat consumption – don’t have a wheat-containing cereal in the morning, a granola bar for a snack, a sandwich at lunch and pasta at dinner… too many opportunities for the wheat proteins to damage your intestines.

• Try a gluten elimination diet for 2 weeks to see if it helps you feel better – whether it’s fatigue, brain fog, joint pain or suboptimal digestion – you may be surprised what happens when you remove this food group.

As with everything else in life, the issue of wheat and gluten is not black and white – it requires common sense. I hope the information we provided can help you make the right decision for you and your family.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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February 2023