You might have noticed that we try to avoid gluten in our lifestyle and would not have that cinnamon bun, sandwich or pasta lunch. But why is that? What’s the harm in gluten really?
Well, actually the real problem in this food equation is the wheat and what we have done to it in recent years.
Haven’t we always eaten wheat?
Oh yes we have and trust us, both Jakob and I are brought up eating lots of it. Everything from bread, cookies, pasta, pizza, pies etc… Historically we have also been eating wheat for more than 10,000 years and no one talked about avoiding gluten a hundred years ago. So what has happened, why are so many people avoiding it and reacting badly to it?
The answer is modern technology and our idea of saving the starving world by making this grain and its farming process more efficient with the aim of mass production. So in the 1970 – 1980s, humans started to make a lot of changes to the wheat grain, making it genetically modified. The wheat has been manipulated and hybridized for easier mechanical harvesting and higher yields. Great for poor countries but they forgot to test it properly on humans and animals…
The modern wheat
This process introduced to us a new kind of grain, the modern wheat, which has many things different from traditional wheat. It has many more chromosomes which gives us the super starch and super protein (the gluten). This may sound awesome, but trust me, it is not. It is mostly the super starch and protein which are what causes gut issues for many of us. It may be grown organically or conventionally but the new genes are still the same. The starch actually boosts blood glucose more than white sugar and the protein (the gluten) is not easily digested and therefore causes trouble with our digestive system and immune system.
You see, it’s not the wheat itself which is bad but rather what they have done to it, in combination with the fact that it is now consumed in so many more ways than before. Wheat is a very big part of our diet and many people eat it in almost every meal they consume. Additionally, the modern wheat is a cheap substitute companies use to replace real ingredients and make their products cheaper. This means that you now find it in medications, supplements, hair care products, makeup and many food additives. Many places you would never have thought of, meaning it has become really hard to avoid in our developed world.
Imagine what this is doing to our bodies when consumed so often. Actually, modern wheat has now been linked to more than 200 autoimmune diseases… Isn’t that scary? The whole population of the earth has become subject to some kind of experiment from which we have only started to see the consequences.
That’s not for us
We have chosen to say no thank you to this genetically modified wheat and started to cut it out years ago. The starting point for this was Jakob’s autoimmune disease which you can read more about in the post How and why we live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. We figured this kind of indigestible gluten was not going to help reducing inflammation in his gut and this is something we have stuck to as in general, any kind of genetically modified foods have no part in our anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
Luckily there are still a few sources left of the ancient grains, the ones that have not been genetically modified. The original wheat grains are Einkorn, Emmer and Dinkel/Spelt. Their starch and gluten have no super powers, meaning it is more digestible for our bodies. The root systems of these grains go much deeper than the modern wheat, allowing for better absorption of nutrients from the earth. As a result these grains have higher nutritional values of protein, minerals and antioxidants. They are also naturally resistant against crop diseases which means that they are very much suitable for organic farming.
Although if you are sensitive to gluten or have a leaky gut or some other kind of inflammation, it is definitely best to fully stay away from all grains containing gluten.
We are lucky to have a local producer of these ancient grains in our region with a love for traditions and organic cultivation and we have recently started to explore these ancient grains. So far we say thumbs up!