Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Gluten-Free Craze: Truths Behind the Trend

by Michele Menzel, ND

Gluten-free is the latest buzzword in health. The term gluten-free means to eliminate grains and foods containing gluten. The gluten grains include wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Unfortunately, many people that decide to eat gluten-free make very poor alternative choices.

A large number of people negatively affected by gluten don’t fully understand why. Some choose to eliminate it because it is the latest health trend, but others experience adverse impacts from gluten, including digestive problems, allergies, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, attention deficit disorder and autism. Also, some people don’t really know what gluten is but just feel better not eating it.

A food sensitivity test can reveal if one has issues with gluten, and many people find they are only sensitive to wheat gluten—not barley, spelt or rye. There are several reasons why gluten sensitivities are on the rise:

We are sensitive because the standard American diet mainly consists of refined wheat products.

If we ate grains prepared correctly, we would not be so sensitive.

It’s not the actual gluten we are sensitive to, but instead, the fact that wheat grain has been modified; it is often sprayed with toxic chemicals, refined and processed to create high-gluten flour without the nutrient base to help us digest the gluten.

Digestive problems can be related to a situation in one’s life that needs to be resolved.

Wheat contains the highest gluten content available today. The standard American diet consists mainly of refined wheat products, like bread, pizza, rolls, pitas, cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, bagels, pretzels and crackers—all snack foods.

Those of us raised on refined grain products seem to be more sensitive. Some naturopaths have noticed that even those that do not think they are having a problem with wheat still test sensitive to it. They may not yet feel its effects, but the body is reacting.

Most gluten-free products are made with flours that are not prepared correctly. Rice, corn, tapioca and soy often include other refined or synthetic ingredients, like tapioca starch, potato starch, sugar (evaporated cane juice or white sugar), maltodextrin, calcium propionate, xanthan gum and genetically modified canola oil. The product itself might be gluten-free, but it is a far cry from being a whole, pure food.

It’s best to just stay away from all refined wheat products, and even whole wheat. Instead of turning to gluten-free processed products, include whole grains that are properly prepared, such as sprouted grains and breads, or naturally fermented and sourdough breads. One should find out if he or she is sensitive to gluten and other foods by scheduling an initial appointment with a naturopathic doctor.

Refined, denatured foods, such as white flour, white sugar and food that has antibiotics, can cause leaky gut. In order to heal the gut, eat a diet of whole food—especially root vegetables, like sweet potatoes and carrots. Also, stewed apples and probiotic foods and beverages will heal the digestive system and relieve symptoms of sensitivities.

Michele Menzel is a naturopathic doctor and founder of Energetic Wellness, located at 2851 W. Edmond Rd., Edmond. For more information, call 405-359-1245, email or visit