The Gluten Debate

27 Sep

A conversation amongst friends on Facebook the other day prompted me to write this article.  I am only going to scratch the surface here because this is a topic that can go on forever.

Is gluten good for you?  Do you NEED it in your diet?  Should you maintain a wheat-free diet?  I hear people ask me these questions all the time.  I am not a doctor so I am not going to pretend to know what your body needs and doesn’t need.  What I will tell you is that every body is different.  A food that may be good and easily digestible for one individual can wreak havoc on another individual’s digestive system.  This is true for all types of food, not just gluten.

What exactly is gluten?  It’s a protein found in wheat (all kinds, including spelt, kamut, barley, rye and triticale (a rye/wheat hybrid).  People who suffer from celiac disease cannot digest anything that contains gluten.  Others, who may not suffer from celiac, have a wheat intolerance whereby their body cannot properly digest wheat.   Some of these individuals (such as my daughter) are able to eat grains such as spelt because although spelt and wheat are closely related, they are two different species in the same genus. Spelt is Triticum spelta and wheat is Triticum aestivum.  The gluten in spelt behaves differently than the gluten in wheat in cooking – it is much more soluble.  Perhaps for this reason, some people can more easily digest spelt than they can wheat.

If you are on a gluten-free diet, however, then spelt cannot be part of your dietary intake.  I will repeat, though, that unless you have found your body does not properly digest gluten, there really should be no reason, in my opinion, to remove it entirely from your diet.  The only way to find out if you have a gluten intolerance (without being tested by a professional practitioner) is to do an elimination diet.  You would have to remove gluten ENTIRELY from your diet for about 3 weeks in order to fully realize the effects it has on your body, if any.  After 21 days, you would re-introduce one of the gluten-based grains and see how your body reacts.  Eat it at one meal and then give your body about 24-48 hours and pay attention to anything you feel different.  If you are feeling any of the symptoms below, then it might mean you have a gluten/wheat intolerance:

  • bloating
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue/brain fog
  • headache
  • swelling/inflammation (pain) in your joints
  • mood swings

The above  list is not exhaustive and if you really want to find out more information about possibly going on an elimination diet to find out what your body can or cannot tolerate, just contact me and we can set up a time to discuss further.

To help make your lives a little easier, I have listed below the different types of grains and which ones are gluten and gluten-free.

Grains with Gluten Gluten FREE Grains
Wheat, including varieties like spelt, kamut, farro and durum; and products like bulgur, semolina Amaranth
Barley Buckwheat
Rye Corn
Triticale Millet
Oats** see below
Oats** see below Rice
Wild Rice

**Oats are inherently gluten-free, but are frequently contaminated with wheat during growing or processing. Several companies (Bob’s Red MillCream Hill EstatesGF Harvest (formerly Gluten Free Oats), Avena Foods (Only Oats), Legacy Valley (Montana Monster Munchies), and Gifts of Nature) currently offer pure, uncontaminated oats. 




Until next time,

Have a fit and fabulous day!!









One Response to “The Gluten Debate”

  1. Vinny Grette September 27, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Nice post. Probably because I agree with you :). I like to recommend whole grains to people who don’t have a medical condition prohibiting gluten

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