Gluten intolerances have become much more prevalent in recent years. As a matter of fact, celiac disease is thought to affect 1 in 33 people. Celiac disease and gluten intolerances are due to an inflammatory response to a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and, sometimes, oats. It is this protein that makes breads and pastas chewy.
When someone who has celiac disease or is sensitive to gluten consumes gluten-containing foods, antibodies that attack intestinal microvilli are attacked. As a result, nutrient absorption is impaired. People may suffer from diarrhea, weight loss, malnutrition, migraines, infertility and osteoporosis, and other inflammatory conditions.
No one really knows why but one of the reasons may be that we are no longer consuming the same types of wheat that our ancestors consumed. Another reason may be that, because people are consuming more refined grain products (such as white flour), they may have reduced ability to digest gluten, which is found in the endosperm of seeds (a part that is usually removed from the grain when it is refined). It might also be because much of the wheat produced today is genetically modified. As was noted in a previous newsletter, genetically modified foods may cause allergies because the process of crossing genes from one species to another creates allergens, or can create new allergies.
People who have celiac disease or intolerance to gluten need to eliminate all gluten-containing foods from their diet. The best grains to use instead of wheat, rye, and barley are:
- Brown rice
- Gluten-free oats
- Buckwheat (related to rhubarb and not wheat)
- Non-GMO corn
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