WARNING: LONG POST, BUT WORTH READING IN ITS ENTIRETY! GREAT REWARDS AT THE END… I PROMISE!
After much research and observation I recently came out with a conclusion that my body might be gluten intolerant. I am not sure if I am allergic to gluten, but there is a possibility of intolerance. It is quite possible that I am wrong, but I decided that I needed to get tested to see if my suspicions are founded. I consulted a local naturopath and sent in my saliva test. Once I get my results I will put them on the blog.
Meanwhile, as of the first of this month, to take all necessary percussions, I cut out all foods that have gluten in them. I don’t believe that I dully realized to this point the role wheat products play is the American diet. No, I was not ignorant of it, but I found many things that were not supposed to have gluten in them actually do. Do not be surprised to see gluten or wheat listed as one of the ingredients on most processed foods you get from the store. I even found it on my spaghetti sauce ingredient list! Unbelievable? Not anymore!
My diet is pretty squeaky clean, but yet, I found that I used pastas and breads a little more than I should. They are such a quick and painless category of food, that sometimes I did not even think twice about not using them, as long as they were whole wheat organic products, of course. As I was coming to the new revelation of the role gluten plays in our diet, I did a quick research. It did not take long to find out that Gluten is responsible for a lot of diseases Americans are battling on daily basis. Do you want a quick list? Here it is:
• Bone Loss
• Rheumatic diseases
• Autoimmune diseases
• Multiple sclerosis
• Celiac Disease
And this is just to name a few. Each disease that I listed here has numerous symptoms that can be painful not only physically but emotionally. Infertility, Celiac Disease and Diabetes are just a few of them.
Isn’t it amazing, though, that most people will never draw the conecting line between overconsumption of wheat products and their physical illnesses?!
When Hubby and I became vegan 2 years ago, one of the first questions one of my siblings asked me was if we had to give up bread. Bread seems to have become the Holy Cow that no one want to give up or even speak of. It is untouchable! The craziest and funniest things come out of the people’s mouths when you touch on the subject of food in general or wheat product in specific. Those of them that are Christian have even quoted scriptures to me to defend their poor diet (this is said in love, of course, since I am myself a believer and a person who professes to be a follower of Christ). And for those of you that are reading, that are Christian, if you would really love to hear what the scripture says about diet, e-mail me. I am sure that I can come up with a couple more references than you can to show the perfect plan that God had for men from the moment of our creation!
If you look back historically, although the human race always consumed some wheat products, you would notice that the more modernized the world had become the more of wheat, especially processed wheat, products we began to consume. Even a hundred years ago wheat grain was ground at a local mill, normally in smaller portions (a couple of bags per family) and kept in conditions that would best preserve it. Nowadays wheat is commercially grown, thus contaminated with chemicals, then it is ground and stripped of the most important nutrients, especially in making of the white flour, then it is reinforced (fortified, if you want to use proper lingo) with synthetic vitamins, that are harmful to our bodies, then it is fortified with additives that would last shelf life, and only then is it delivered to the stores, from which you will buy the final product. Even organic flour undergoes somewhat of a similar process.
If in the past breads and pastas were made on occasion, since wheat was not easily accessible or affordable to many, now, due to the modern commercial processes, it is available to anyone in any amount the money can buy. It is no wonder then, that as with the rest of the foods, our modern society came to abuse wheat products and became addicted to them, so we no longer can imagine our lives without them.
Let me give you a quick description of what happens to wheat grain, once it has been ground (milled). By the way, I was taught some of this information by my naturopath, Dr. Briggs of Clatskanie, OR.
The process describes modern farming practices. I found this information on this web-site: http://www.westonaprice.org/modernfood/wheatyindiscretions.html. And I quote:
“Rather than focus on soil fertility and careful selection of seed to produce varieties tailored to a particular micro-climate, modern farming practices use high-tech methods to deal with pests and disease, leading to overdependence on chemicals and other substances.
IT STARTS WITH THE SEED
Even before they are planted in the ground, wheat seeds receive an application of fungicides and insecticides. Fungicides are used to control diseases of seeds and seedlings; insecticides are used to control insect pests, killing them as they feed on the seed or emerging seedling. Seed companies often use mixtures of different seed-treatment fungicides or insecticides to control a broader spectrum of seed pests.
PESTICIDES AND FERTILIZERS
Some of the main chemicals (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) used on commercial wheat crops are disulfoton (Di-syston), methyl parathion, chlorpyrifos, dimethoate, diamba and glyphosate.
Although all these chemicals are approved for use and considered safe, consumers are wise to reduce their exposure as much as possible. Besides contributing to the overall toxic load in our bodies, these chemicals increase our susceptibility to neurotoxic diseases as well as to conditions like cancer.
Many of these pesticides function as xenoestrogens, foreign estrogen that can reap havoc with our hormone balance and may be a contributing factor to a number of health conditions. For example, researchers speculate these estrogen-mimicking chemicals are one of the contributing factors to boys and girls entering puberty at earlier and earlier ages. They have also been linked to abnormalities and hormone-related cancers including fibrocystic breast disease, breast cancer and endometriosis.
HORMONES ON WHEAT?
Sounds strange, but farmers apply hormone-like substances or “plant growth regulators” that affect wheat characteristics, such as time of germination and strength of stalk. These hormones are either “natural,” that is, extracted from other plants, or synthetic. Cycocel is a synthetic hormone that is commonly applied to wheat.
Moreover, research is being conducted on how to manipulate the naturally occurring hormones in wheat and other grains to achieve “desirable” changes, such as regulated germination and an increased ability to survive in cold weather.
CHEMICALS USED IN STORAGE
Chemical offenses don’t stop after the growing process. The long storage of grains makes them vulnerable to a number of critters. Before commercial grain is even stored, the collection bins are sprayed with insecticide, inside and out. More chemicals are added while the bin is filled. These so-called “protectants” are then added to the upper surface of the grain as well as four inches deep into the grain to protect against damage from moths and other insects entering from the top of the bin. The list of various chemicals used includes chlorpyrifos-methyl, diatomaceous earth, bacillus thuringiensis, cy-fluthrin, malathion and pyrethrins.
Then there is the threshold test. If there is one live insect per quart of sample, fumigation is initiated. The goal of fumigation is to “maintain a toxic concentration of gas long enough to kill the target pest population.” The toxic chemicals penetrate the entire storage facility as well as the grains being treated. Two of the fumigants used include methyl bromide and phosphine-producing materials, such as magnesium phosphide or aluminum phosphide.
Heat damage is a serious problem that results from the artificial drying of damp grain at high temperatures. Overheating causes denaturing of the protein and can also partially cook the protein, ruining the flour’s baking properties and nutritional value. According to Ed Lysenko, who tests grain by baking it into bread for the Canadian Grain Commission’s grain research laboratory, wheat can be dried without damage by using re-circulating batch dryers, which keep the wheat moving during drying. He suggests an optimal drying temperature of 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit). Unfortunately, grain processors do not always take these precautions.
The damage inflicted on wheat does not end with cultivation and storage, but continues into milling and processing. A grain kernel is comprised of three layers: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran is the outside layer where most of the fiber exists. The germ is the inside layer where many nutrients and essential fatty acids are found. The endosperm is the starchy middle layer. The high nutrient density associated with grains exists only when these three are intact. The term whole grain refers to the grain before it has been milled into flour. It was not until the late nineteenth century that white bread, biscuits, and cakes made from white flour and sugars became mainstays in the diets of industrialized nations, and these products were only made possible with the invention of high-speed milling machines. Dr. Price observed the unmistakable consequences of these dietary changes during his travels and documented their corresponding health effects. These changes not only resulted in tooth decay, but problems with fertility, mental health and disease progression.
Flour was originally produced by grinding grains between large stones. The final product, 100 percent stone-ground whole-wheat flour, contained everything that was in the grain, including the germ, fiber, starch and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Without refrigeration or chemical preservatives, fresh stone-ground flour spoils quickly. After wheat has been ground, natural wheat-germ oil becomes rancid at about the same rate that milk becomes sour, so refrigeration of whole grain breads and flours is necessary. Technology’s answer to these issues has been to apply faster, hotter and more aggressive processing.
Since grinding stones are not fast enough for mass-production, the industry uses high-speed, steel roller mills that eject the germ and the bran. Much of this “waste product”–the most nutritious part of the grain–is sold as “byproducts” for animals. The resulting white flour contains only a fraction of the nutrients of the original grain. Even whole wheat flour is compromised during the modern milling process. High-speed mills reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and this heat destroys vital nutrients and creates rancidity in the bran and the germ. Vitamin E in the germ is destroyed–a real tragedy because whole wheat used to be our most readily available source of vitamin E.
Literally dozens of dough conditioners and preservatives go into modern bread, as well as toxic ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and soy flour. Soy flour–loaded with antinutrients–is added to virtually all brand-name breads today to improve rise and prevent sticking. The extrusion process, used to make cold breakfast cereals and puffed grains, adds insult to injury with high temperatures and high pressures that create additional toxic components and further destroy nutrients–even the synthetic vitamins that are added to replace the ones destroyed by refinement and milling.
People have become accustomed to the mass-produced, gooey, devitalized, and nutritionally deficient breads and baked goods and have little recollection of how real bread should taste. Chemical preservatives allow bread to be shipped long distances and to remain on the shelf for many days without spoiling and without refrigeration.
HEALTHY WHOLE WHEAT PRODUCTS
Ideally, one should buy whole wheat berries and grind them fresh to make homemade breads and other baked goods. Buy whole wheat berries that are grown organically or biodynamically–biodynamic farming involves higher standards than organic. Since these forms of farming do not allow synthetic, carcinogenic chemicals and fertilizers, purchasing organic or biodynamic wheat assures that you are getting the cleanest, most nutritious food possible. It also automatically eliminates the possibility of irradiation and genetically engineered seed. The second best option is to buy organic 100 percent stone-ground whole-wheat flour at a natural food store. Slow-speed, steel hammer-mills are often used instead of stones, and flours made in this way can list “stone-ground” on the label. This method is equivalent to the stone-ground process and produces a product that is equally nutritious. Any process that renders the entire grain into usable flour without exposing it to high heat is acceptable.
If you do not make your own bread, there are ready made alternatives available. Look for organic sourdough or sprouted breads freshly baked or in the freezer compartment of your market or health food store. If bread is made entirely with 100 percent stone-ground whole grains, it will state so on the label. When bread is stone ground and then baked, the internal temperature does not usually exceed 170 degrees, so most of the nutrients are preserved. As they contain no preservatives, both whole wheat flour and its products should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. Stone-ground flour will keep for several months frozen.
Sprouting, soaking and genuine sourdough leavening “pre-digests” grains, allowing the nutrients to be more easily assimilated and metabolized. This is an age-old approach practiced in most traditional cultures. Sprouting begins germination, which increases the enzymatic activity in foods and inactivates substances called enzyme inhibitors. These enzyme inhibitors prevent the activation of the enzymes present in the food and, therefore, may hinder optimal digestion and absorption. Soaking neutralizes phytic acid, a component of plant fiber found in the bran and hulls of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds that reduces mineral absorption. All of these benefits may explain why sprouted foods are less likely to produce allergic reactions in those who are sensitive. Sprouting also causes a beneficial modification of various nutritional elements. According to research undertaken at the University of Minnesota, sprouting increases the total nutrient density of a food. For example, sprouted whole wheat was found to have 28 percent more thiamine (B1), 315 percent more riboflavin (B2), 66 percent more niacin (B3), 65 percent more pantothenic acid (B5), 111 percent more biotin, 278 percent more folic acid, and 300 percent more vitamin C than non-sprouted whole wheat. This phenomenon is not restricted to wheat. All grains undergo this type of quantitative and qualitative transformation. These studies also confirmed a significant increase in enzymes, which means the nutrients are easier to digest and absorb.”
This is a great article indeed. Saved me tons of time I would have spent in research, and it echoed practically every single thing that my naturopath discussed with me.
I would like to emphasize one aspect that the author of this article describes in great detail: “Without refrigeration or chemical preservatives, fresh stone-ground flour spoils quickly. After wheat has been ground, natural wheat-germ oil becomes rancid at about the same rate that milk becomes sour, so refrigeration of whole grain breads and flours is necessary.”
The reason most people become allergic or intolerant to wheat products is because by the time the flour or the bread products make it to their tables the products area already spoiled and the nutrients are rancid or dead, so our bodies can no longer digest these products properly or extract any useful nutrients.
For those who are suffering with Celiac disease there is a lot of information available. I found a great resource web-site: http://www.blogger.com/www.celiac.com. Check it out for Gluten Free ideas. What I had discovered is this, with most food allergies, a person will need to get off the product/food he/she is allergic to for at least six months. If the allergies or intolerance were not huge the food can be reintroduced into the diet in moderate portions and infrequent use, given that a better, healthier source of those foods has been made.
Dr. Briggs (my naturopath) has advised that if the wheat products are later reintroduced into the diet, the flour should be made/ground at home (there are home mills that are available on the market, and they don’t even take up too much of the counter space!) and used within 36 hrs of being ground. Come beginning of June, if I decide to reintroduce gluten products into my diet, I am certainly going this route.
Dear reader, I know that this probably has been the longest post in my blog’s history, but, please, bare with me, I am almost done, and the information provided here is worth its weight in gold.
I have completely removed all Gluten Products from my diet. It certainly made my meal planning a smidge difficult, but nothing I cannot overcome. It actually helps and forces me to explore other grains and foods (unprocessed, of course) and make better choices.
So far I am on my 9th day GLUTEN FREE! I can report this finding with absolutely clear conscious—I started to feel better! I have not seen any drastic changes yet, but I already noticed that my digestion has improved (and being a whole foods vegan I did not have a digestion problem to start with), my energy level has increased, the mind became clearer. And all of this in only 9 days!!! I will be reporting more, as the time progresses, and will be adding Gluten Free recipes to the blog as well. So, if you know of any great recipes, please share them—I will be glad to try them and to add to the blog, if it pleases my palate.
For those of you who are interested in following a Gluten Free diet, or reducing the amount of Gluten you consume, I found a great link with a list of Gluten-free and/or Gluten foods. You can find it here: Celiac Solutions.
Until next time: Live Well!