To eat it or not??
What is "gluten"?
Gluten is found in grains: wheat, barley, and rye. Many other grains contain gluten as well just lower levels and they don't seem to cause as many problems (corn, oats, millet, ect).
Gluten has been found to irritate and negatively effect the gut lining and intestinal permeability, causing "leaky gut". Our intestines are like a "net", a really fine net, this allows the blood stream to get the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs for other processes for our body, but it keeps out food, waste, and microbes, and keeps them inside the intestines. Gluten makes that gut lining "net" have a bigger holes, due to a inflammatory protein called zonulin. This creates "leaky gut" - as you can imagine this causes A LOT of problems, allowing things into the bloodstream that shouldn't be there. This causes an autoimmune response and inflammation enters the stage. There is a legit connection with your gut and brain, when your gut is not functioning properly the brain responds negatively. This can impact your: mood, energy levels, skin, and even how you tolerate stress.
What's changed about the grain?
Between the late 1800's and now we have changed our grain significantly. "Prior to the 1900’s most bread baked in this country was done so at home. Grain was milled at the local miller or homes had mills of their own so that flour could be milled as needed and used before it spoiled. The bran and germ portions of the whole grain contain many vital nutrients to good health that oxidize quickly once the flour is milled and the germ portion contains oils that go rancid as well. In the late 1800’s steel rolling mills were invented that sifted the bran and germ portions away, leaving white flour that would not spoil. Thinking this a wonderful discovery, steel rolling mills soon replaced the local millers and by 1910 white flour and white bread became food for the common man." Read more here, a wonderful resource for how to freshly mill bread.
Buying your grain, milling it, and baking it yourself is absolutely the most nutrient dense way to eat it. If you are going to eat gluten, this is the only way I would recommend eating it. Source high quality grain, mill it yourself, and bake it yourself. I would also only recommend this to generally very healthy people. If you have any underlying condition, I would not recommend gluten at all. This includes: autoimmune disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, skin problems, mental health issues, asthma or breathing disorders, joint or muscle problems, allergies (dietary or air-borne), digestive issues, if its not listed its probably included too...
Because America changed how we mill grain, we are (and have been for a while)
leading the world in chronic disease and obesity. Another reason to be weary of the conventional wheat (besides the fact that it is no longer nourishing our bodies properly) is because farmers spray glyphosate (round-up) just before harvest onto the wheat. This means we are ingesting chemicals.
Because we have been eating such low quality food for so long, many people can't even reintroduce gluten at all back into their diet, even if it is sourced, milled, and baked by you. Gluten instead creates more inflammation and irritation... it is better to just remove it altogether from your diet.
Gluten is the most common food sensitivity, coming in 2nd and 3rd place are dairy and sugar. Even if it doesn't come back as "allergic" (like someone with Celiac's Disease), you may (likely) be sensitive to it. If you have (just about) any health condition, my first dietary change I would recommend would be to remove gluten for 10-30 days, see how you feel. If you see an improvement, keep going! Gluten-free is not a death sentence to your life, you are getting your life BACK, and healing your gut lining!
Another thing I hear when it comes to being concerned about going GF is that, "the longer your off it, the harder it is to bring back in"... yes. This is true. Your body rejects it - likely, its not something you will be able to tolerate later in life. Just like I know my body rejects tomatoes and spicy peppers... I will probably never get them back in my diet. If you feel better without it, its worth it.
How to help people understand
I have met so many people that feel embarrassed by the way they eat. This is extremely common and it breaks my heart. We have this idea that if we "can't have something" we are deficient in some way. When in reality because you don't have it your life is fuller. Spend time helping those you love understand why you eat the way you do and why you would appreciate their support. Once you explain to them your reasoning, most people will be supportive... you will have a few people in your life that tempt you and mock you - it's time to cut them loose. They are going to hinder to your journey and your health. Besides, who wants to be around that person that continually pulls them down and encourages people to not be their best self? Surround yourself with people who love you no matter what you eat and don't judge you for it.
For years I struggled with staying gluten-free... I think the last bite of gluten I had was about one and a half years ago I was tempted by a cookie at work, I took 1 bite and threw the rest away. But for the most part I have claimed myself as "Gluten-Free" since I was 20 years old (13 years). This was my first step for my Crohn's disease in terms of diet change. Changing my diet has changed my life, I'll never go back. I am proud to eat the way I do. I hope you find that same confidence that will push you to try going Gluten-Free. I hope it makes you feel better.
More questions? shoot me an email or get in touch through social media.