Perhaps you have been noticing the increasing number of foods available that are labeled gluten-free. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. While our ancestors consumed grains containing gluten with no apparent negative health effects, it is important to know that the grains that they ate were very different than those we consume today. And from an evolutionary standpoint, we have been around for almost 2 million years, while we have only been consuming grains for a few thousand years.
Over time, grains have gone from being a low-protein simple grain, to a high-protein, high-yield crop. With the birth of the agricultural revolution, grains have been stripped of their nutritional integrity, leaving them less digestible and more toxic to our bodies. Additionally, many of the grains we consume today in the United States have been genetically altered. The result of all of this is that we have a relatively new, highly cultivated version of grains that our bodies do not recognize in the same way and do not process well, which has led to many people experiencing an immune response to the gluten, resulting in health issues ranging in severity from mild and unpleasant to severe and life-threatening.
While this immune response tends to illicit a reaction in the digestive system for most people, any tissue in the body can be affected. It is believed that the grains we consume today are responsible for the development of many degenerative diseases afflicting humans today. The antibodies produced in reaction to these modern grains can attack the brain, bones, thyroid, pancreas, cause inflammation, and lead to destruction of the tissue. Some of the symptoms associated with these issues include migraines, depression, ADD/ADHD, brain fog, autism, epilepsy, diabetes, skin conditions, fatigue, hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid function), lupus, Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, and a host of other chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Perhaps you can understand why many people are now eliminating gluten from their diet, including some high-profile celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zooey Deschanel, and Jenny McCarthy, who adopted a rigorous diet which included eliminating gluten, to help manage her son’s autism.
While the official USDA Food Pyramid Guide emphasizes a diet heavy in grain consumption, you may find that like many others, you feel better limiting or eliminating gluten from your diet.
If you are interested in reading a very thorough history of grains and gluten and a scientific explanation as to why it is so problematic for so many people, click here.
Photo Credit: CeliacDiseaseInfo.org