Until a year or so ago I don’t think I’d heard much of this protein called gluten. Since then I’ve learned quite a bit. This glue-like protein is found primarily in wheat and wheat hybrids (barley, rye, etc.) but is also found to varying degrees in other grains like corn. One of its functions is to act like glue – it binds things together, providing the elasticity that makes bread, cinnamon rolls and pizza so endearing to us. In fact pizza – which I love – is make with extra amounts of gluten in the dough to make it more elastic.
As one of the first three things to go in many health restoration plans there was a bit of a learning curve and even more so an eating curve. However, this has become (maybe always was) a controversial topic – as is most “natural” type treatments in the over-medicated world in which we live.
As the researcher in the house, when my wife was advised to start avoiding gluten I began researching and buying books on the topic. And here’s what I found.
Gluten and gluten containing products should be a concern to more people than just celiac disease. With the hybridization of wheat in the 1970s or before an alteration seems to have occurred that makes it more difficult for the body to utilize the protein found in some grains. Although this hybridization may have saved many people in other countries it seems to be having a negative effect on those of us in the west who indulge in diets high in grains.The gluten in the grains causes irritation and inflammation in the digestive system which leads to what is often called “leaky gut” which in turn causes additional complications in the symbiotic state of the body. This has been linked to all types of autoimmune diseases including allergies, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, MS, and many others.
Many (some would say most or all) health problems are related to inflammation in the body. If you can reduce/eliminate inflammation you can get rid of most health problems.
Because there is so much conflicting information on pretty much every health related issue in our age of information overload, I want to provide you with some links so that you can research this for yourself. You can google and get plenty of info on why gluten/grains are no big deal so I’m not going to provide that info for you – besides I no longer believe it is accurate. Instead let me point you to some of the people I’ve learned from and their research – many of which have medical practices. Because I know that our society shows preference to earned MD’s I’m going to start with those; however, it is an illogical position to hold that an earned MD is the only way to be credible or legitimate. This is an argument for another day but whether it’s business, social networks, or health – there are many “self-made” experts who did not pursue the traditional path of “classroom learning” in their pursuit of excellence and expertise. But, I’ll start with those who did anyway.
Dr. Amy Myers: An MD who is a practicing heath care provider, founder of Austin UltraHealth functional medicine clinic, author, speaker, etc. Dr. Myers focuses a great deal on thyroid disorders as well as Dr. Wentz below.
Dr. Mark Hyman: An MD who is a practicing family doctor and medical director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, author, blogger speaker. Dr. Hyman was formerly the editor-in-chief of the peer reviewed journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.
Dr. Peter Osborne: A Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, director of Origins Health Care in Sugar Land, TX and Doctor of Pastoral Science. He is also the author of No Grain, No Pain, and founder of Gluten Free Society.
Dr. Kharrazian: Doctor of Health Science with post-doctorate research training as a global conical scholar at Harvard Medical School. Recently appointed as research fellow at Harvard Medical School and the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. K is a Professor, researcher, author, and practitioner. See further here. His research/writings are heavily focused on thyroid function as well.
What you’ll find as a common denominator with most of the people in this field is that they have personal journey’s in illness that led them to becoming functional medicine practitioners. They tried the traditional approach and it did not work so they began further investigations into the body and proper nutrition. They then pursued proper certifications in the field of nutrition/functional medicine, in addition to their already earned degrees. Most of their writing and book publishing has occurred in the past few years (with a few exceptions). This is also normal – most people write books after several years of research and practice.
On a personal note, despite no attempt or desire to lose weight both my wife and I lost weight after removing gluten from our diets. Reduce inflammation and weight by reducing your gluten. There are other ways to make bread, albeit through much trial and error.
To your Health!