Gluten yes, Gluten no, Gluten maybe…

 

The word gluten comes from the Latin meaning “glue”. It is a protein that is found, to some degree, in all grains. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, a chewy texture and allows it to rise and keep its shape. “Gluten Free” is the new catch phrase of the food industry. To understand why there is so much concern nowadays we should go back to the beginning. Wheat can be traced back almost 5,000 B.C. where it was cultivated by the Egyptians and was then called “Einkorn”. At that time wheat was what we now consider an untampered food source. As the years went on wheat was experimented with and cross bred so as to make it a stronger, more productive grain. It wasn’t until the 1940’s when the Rockefeller foundation working with the Mexican government cross bred a wheat which could come to full maturity at 1ft. as opposed to 4. This new strain was developed by increased use of fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation. This truly was remarkable since the main purpose was to address world hunger. However, this new strain of wheat was never tested on humans and simply went into production. Now after 70 years we have a tremendous increase in Celiac disease and inflammation caused by wheat consumption. This could be due to the fact that up until the 1940’s the makeup of wheat changed so gradually that we were able to adjust to the digestion of the protein within it. Our first experience with wheat (Einkorn) had only 14 chromosomes whereas present day wheat has 44. Secondly most wheat today is genetically modified which could be another reason why so many of us are rejecting it. Thirdly because of the enormous surplus of wheat that is grown in this country we can find it in almost every packaged food we consume along with hair products, cosmetics and dermatological preparations. Although you may not be suffering from Celiac disease, which is extreme, you may not know that you could possibly be allergic to wheat. This would exhibit itself in bloating and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. If you feel inclined to take a break from eating gluten, eliminate all gluten grains (spelt, kamut, barley, rye etc.). But if you feel the need to have some form of whole grain, stick with the non-gluten grains (amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, oats etc.). You may find the experiment rewarding in so far as it will force you to experiment with grains that you were formally unaware of and in turn open you up to some new choices on your menu. If after all this you feel you still miss consuming wheat, there is hope. Wheat in it’s earliest form “Einkorn” is now being once again grown organically and many are finding that they are not sensitive to this earliest form of gluten.