Many people diagnosed with certain conditions need to avoid wheat or gluten and some people just find their health improves when avoiding them. (Gluten = wheat, barley, bulgar, rye) but also in foods that contain wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat germ, couscous, cracked wheat, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, faro, fu, graham flour, kamut, matzo, semolina, spelt.
And although oats are gluten free there will often be traces in oat products as they are usually produced in places where they can get contaminated with gluten.
Gluten may also show up as ingredients in beer, barley malt, chicken broth, malt vinegar, some dressings and soy sauce.
It may seem daunting to avoid gluten and some people feel that they are abnormal because of this which can create an added psychological stress … hankering for a cure so that they can be normal again.
So it is worth knowing that there is a school of thought (especially among those that see the benefits of the paleo diets) that considers the human body not evolved to deal with large amounts of grain. And in fact, there are many conditions associated with the consumption of grain because they have certain challenging metabolic effects on the body.
The following is from an extract of the web page of Robert Redfern and is a pretty comprehensive list of the effects of grain.
I should like to share this to encourage people who cannot eat grain that not eating grain can be considered more normal and they are possibly forced into a lifestyle that could have major health benefits!
ROBERT REDFERN ON GRAIN:
White rice, white bread and white pasta are all grains we know to avoid because they’re not part of a healthy lifestyle. These grains are basically nothing but sugar, leading to unstable blood sugar levels. They are refined, processed and without fiber.
Whole grains and cereals are different though because they are after all whole grains, right?
This is what we are led to believe for various reasons, some of them monetary. Whole grains are actually very similar to the more refined grains mentioned earlier. This is due to the way they are both processed. Steel roller mills grind all grains down to consistently small fragments, with the whole grain fragments not being much different than those produced from white flour.
We need to avoid any and all grains as they are associated with many health complications and diseases. Let’s take a look at the top twenty reasons why we should eliminate these foods right away.
According to Dictionary.com the glycemic index is a system that ranks foods by the speeds at which their carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body; or to put it more simply, a measure of the effects of foods on blood-sugar levels. All grains rank high on the index, meaning they raise blood sugar quickly as opposed to a slow sustained release of sugar. High blood sugar levels are linked to a multitude of chronic diseases.
Mycotoxins are poisonous substances produced by fungi which grow in yeast and mold. Grains contain mycotoxins and these toxins are linked to numerous diseases.
A proper essential fatty acid ratio is imperative to good health. Grains contain an improper balance of omegas-3s to omega-6s, leading to inflammation. This inflammation is further exacerbated by the fatty spreads we put on our grains.
Our body is naturally alkaline. To remain alkaline we require the majority of our foods to be alkaline-forming. Grains are acid-forming and acidifying to our body, leading to calcium loss in the urine and an increased risk of osteoporosis. When our body becomes too acid, acidosis sets in, bringing with it many health concerns.
An overabundance of sugar from consuming grains feeds the unfriendly bacteria in our intestinal tract. In the proper amounts these bacteria are necessary; however, in abundance they create illness.
Fruits and vegetables contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals which are lacking in grains.
Fruits contain twice as much fiber as grains; non-starchy vegetables supply 8 times more fiber.
Grains contain no vitamin C or B12 and contain only trace amounts of folate and biotin, another B vitamin. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and low levels of B12 and folate lead to increased levels of the amino acid homocysteine, increasing the risk of heart disease.
Grains contain no calcium and form an insoluble complex with calcium. Along with grain’s high levels of phosphorus this leads to a low calcium/phosphorus ratio. High levels of phosphorus speed up bone loss.
Antinutrients (Antinutrients are chemicals that prevent absorption of nutrients, damage the gastrointestinal tract and affect immune system function.)
Pyridoxine glucosides block the absorption of B vitamins in the intestines, including B6, which is also related to increased levels of homocysteine. Vitamin D metabolism is inhibited by the consumption of grains, reducing calcium absorption.
Phytates chemically bond the iron, zinc, copper and calcium within grains, blocking their absorption during the digestion process.
Enzyme inhibitors suppress the enzymes you need to digest food, compromising, digestion and placing stress on the pancreas.
A chemical created in some foods, usually starches, when using high heat or extended cooking times. Baking bread is a good example.
Glutinous proteins are found in grains. These are responsible for food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities.
Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease affecting the small intestine. It may be triggered by eating too many grains early in life or a traumatic event creating stress in the body. Celiac disease causes great distress to the immune system and can be life-threatening. The only “cure” for celiac disease is to completely avoid gluten.
Dermatitis herpetiformis is the skin form of celiac disease. Avoiding gluten completely applies here too.
Hashimoto’s disease is also an auto-immune disorder. It affects the thyroid. Gluten must be avoided.
Lectins are proteins in grains which are indigestible. Instead of being absorbed, these proteins attach to cells in the intestines, increasing intestinal permeability and allowing partially undigested food proteins and undesirable bacteria to enter the bloodstream. This is a condition known as leaky gut syndrome. A leaky gut confuses the immune system, causing it to attack the body’s own tissues.
This condition sees significant improvement on a gluten-free diet.
Wheat may contain a narcotic-like substance that affects behavior. Removing gluten-containing grains decreases schizophrenic episodes.
Some of the health complications already mentioned and others associated with consuming grains are:
Eliminating grains and replacing them with more low sugar fruits and non-starchy vegetables will lead to better health. This can sometimes leave a void where grains used to be. Are there any alternatives?
Alternative grains are foods thought of and used as grains, but are actually seeds. These substitutions are healthy, nutritious and gluten-free.
These can be enjoyed in recipes you currently make with grains. Get creative with these new foods and they will open up a whole new world of flavors and foods.