Our modern highly processed diet puts wheat right on the winner’s stand. The average person starts their day with a wheat based cereal and/or toast, followed by sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner (with maybe a mid afternoon cake or biscuit).
The wheat we eat today has changed dramatically over the years. Instead of the many and varied varieties of wheat grain available we now only produce around 3 that are the hardiest and most resistant to disease. The wheat crops are also now stored for very long periods and processed with all sorts of preservatives and chemicals to prolong shelf life. Is it any wonder so many of us have become intolerant to it?
Our wheat-fuelled society is for many turning them into foggy brained, malnourished, sluggish individuals with below par immune systems.
There has been massive growth in the manufacture and consumption of pre-packaged process foods in recent years and it is now very hard to find such food products in the supermarket and convenience stores that do not contain wheat and/or gluten. For the large part, people used to be very unaware of the amount of wheat in their diet. I for one didn’t give it a second thought until my 30’s until the onset of a very debilitating illness.
Looking back prior to the onset of my chronic fatigue, there weren’t any obvious warning signs that the average person would recognise, that my body was having difficulty digesting wheat. Now, years later after my personal experience, my nutritional training and years of research I can see the warning signs were always there. My immune system was never great; a common cold could floor me for a week and certainly meant time off work, any minor tummy upsets took a couple of weeks to clear, my bowels were always slow and - not to put too fine a point on it - dry and sluggish. I also often used to suffer with pimples around the chin, (prime area for reflecting what’s going on with the colon) and had unusually long and painful menstrual periods.
When we have always been used to our bodies behaving in a certain way, we do not question how they function until it becomes chronic, it is all that we have ever known and doesn’t create enough discomfort for us to recognise things are not functioning, as perhaps they should or could.
It is only now, in my 40’s and eating a very different diet without gluten grains that I know I have a tip-top immune system that I could never have imagined in my 20’s. Colds rarely last more than a day or two. My bowels are very regular now and a trip to the toilet literally takes seconds and is often more than once a day, (the ideal would be 3 times a day). Without gluten in my diet I am finally able to absorb good nutrients and give my body the good nourishment it needs to keep well (hopefully to a ripe old age!).
Sadly there are many more people that have wheat or in more extreme cases gluten intolerance that they are completely unaware of and the numbers are growing rapidly. Just to explain clearly – wheat contains gluten, which is a protein. It is what gives dough its elasticity and can therefore behave like chewing gum in the digestive system adhering to the intestinal wall. Of all the grains, wheat contains the most gluten, followed by spelt, rye, oats and barley. Good gluten free grain choices are rice, millet, quinoa (though it is actually a seed, it is a great substitute for grain).
As wheat and gluten grains are so embedded in our modern diet, many are reluctant to consider eliminating it from their diet. The symptoms of poor health they can create are wide and varied and so for many the association would not be made with an intolerance to it though the most common is obviously slow bowels. You just need to look at the list of associated problems at the end of this article.
I have suggested in the past to mums of some children that their children’s bowel and/or behavioural problems may be due to a wheat or gluten intolerance. Unfortunately ‘little Jonny or Jenny’ are shipped off to the doctor for a celiac test, which invariably comes back negative as the test is so outdated and unreliable.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where doctors will invariably treat a patient relying solely on often-inaccurate test results, without taking into account any symptoms the patient is quite clearly showing. Sadly the patient will continue to eat gluten and wheat products doing even more damage to their intestines.
The small intestine is around 7 metres long and its internal surface area is covered in lots of tiny hairs called villi. The small intestine is where the food we eat is absorbed through the villi in the intestine wall. Celiac’s disease causes the villi to be flattened making it thereby extremely difficult to digest and absorb the nutrients from food. Once celiac’s has been properly diagnosed by a biopsy then most of the villi is already badly damaged.
Sadly as is the case with most medical tests a disease picture has to become very established to give a positive diagnosis. If we were to work proactively to prevent the villi becoming so damaged (and to the point where it is so damaged to get a positive test to gluten intolerance), then the person’s health does not need to deteriorate to such an extent.
The bigger supermarkets have been slowly increasing their ranges of gluten free and free from ranges. Unfortunately many of these ‘food’ items have a great long list of chemical ingredients that you wouldn’t recognise. They may be gluten free, but will do little to nourish your body. I believe that just because you don’t wish to or can’t eat gluten that food should be no less delicious. With this in mind I am very much focusing my website this year on offering more recipes for those wanting to eat gluten free.
If you think you may have a wheat or gluten intolerance and feel you need help with your diet or feel moving towards a gluten or wheat free existence is for you for health reasons then here are the details of how you can work with me:
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These diseases have all been linked to gluten sensitivity:
Anemia (caused by nutrient deficiencies - Iron deficiency, Folate deficiency, B-12, B-6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Copper)
Asthma & Ezcema
Atherosclerosis, Cardiomyopathy, Coronary artery disease and Angina Pectoris (chest pain/pressure)
Autism and all conditions on the autistic spectrum; ADD, ADHD, dyslexia
Bone pain and fractures
Bowel problems: Chronic Constipation, Colic,IBS, Colitis, Crohns
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / M.E. & Fibromyalgia
Diabetes Mellitus type I (shares the same HLA genes as Celiac disease)
Mental illness, including depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia
Non alcoholic fatty liver disease
Spontaneous nose bleeds
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