Nutrition: To Gluten or not to Gluten

As Hamlet said in a slightly more life-threatening situation, that is the question.

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Nili Abrahams, C.H.H.C, M.B.A.,

Buckwheat Plant
Buckwheat Plant

The latest food obsession on the airwaves, net and media is gluten.

Just begin typing the word into a search engine and “gluten-free” pops up immediately.

So how do we tease through all the hype and opinions? Or is living a gluten free life the final nutritional frontier?

It’s true that celiac disease and gluten intolerance are very serious conditions. Those sensitive to gluten experience a number of uncomfortable symptoms: bloating, abdominal discomfort and pain. It may even cause headaches, migraines, lethargy, attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity. And the list does go on.

Eliminating gluten from one’s diet can be tough if you consider the number of foods that contain wheat, rye, and barley.

So how do you know you have gluten intolerance? While testing can help identify gluten sensitivity, the only way to truly know is to eliminate all gluten for about 2 to 4 weeks and see how you feel.

You need to get rid of the following foods: barley, rye, oats, spelt, kamut and wheat. There are also hidden sources of gluten such as: soup mixes, salad dressings, sauces, as well as lipstick, certain vitamins, medications, stamps and envelopes you have to lick, and even Play-Doh.

For this test to work you MUST eliminate 100 percent of the gluten from your diet.

Then eat it again and see what happens. If you feel bad at all, you need to stay off gluten permanently. It’s just that simple.

What I found fascinating is that sourdough fermented breads lose about ninety percent of the added gluten, placing this level low enough to be safe even for those with celiac disease. So if you go for gluten-free bread, go for the sourdough because the fermentation breaks down gluten.

And for an added bonus, this bread also helps with the absorption of nutrients, meaning it’s a good idea for the non-gluten-sensitive population, as well.