Gluten: Friend or Foe?

Gluten: Friend or Foe?

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By Alecia Sexton
Layout Manager

With all the recent hype about gluten free diets, gluten allergies, gluten sensitivities and any other gluten related aliment, it’s hard to decipher what’s been extrapolated by the media and used to suck wallets dry, and what’s factual and backed up by science.

Photo by Alecia Sexton
Gluten and Gluten Free products

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the fact is gluten has gone from being a harmless substance naturally found in wheatand rye, to a genetically modified substance that now has the ability to wreak havoc on the digestive system of not only gluten sensitive individuals, but on everyone who eats it. As confirmed by Kelly Farrell, a medical doctor who writes for the New England Journal of Medicine, genetic modification increases the size of the gluten grain and also makes it more resistant to insect infestation. This increased resistance is due to the unfavorable symptoms the grains produce in bugs such as indigestion and bloating.

The way people feel they are affected by gluten varies in severity. Forinstance, Celiac’s Disease is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks its own intestinal tissue, destroying nutrient absorbing villi and eventually leading to malnutrition and, if left unchecked, other more se-vere autoimmune diseases. However, some people feel that even thoughthey don’t secrete antibodies against gluten like Celiac sufferers do, that gluten affects them in other ways, contributing to bloating, fatigue, headaches and joint pain.

Some scientists argue that since the chemical composition of gluten under a microscope has changed only very little throughout the past few decades, that the demonization of the substance is a bunch of hoopla. On the opposite side, some scientists produce hard data that directly relates gluten to indigestion and the decreased ability of the body to produce protein digesting enzymes in gluten sensitive and insensitive individuals.

Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist from Milwaukee who published a book titled Wheat Belly, concluded in an interview with The New Yorker magazine that as a result of his research, he found that “the version of ‘wheat’ we consume today is a product of genetic research…You and I cannot obtain the forms of wheat that were grown fifty years ago, let alone one hundred, one thousand, or ten thousand years ago.” This seems to be a black and white answer to the gluten issue, however Davis is challenged by the U.S Department of Agriculture agent, Donald Kasadra, who claimed in the same New Yorker piece that “[his] research did not support an increase in the prevalence of Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance on the basis of historical data in comparison with recent data.”

Although more conclusive experiments on gluten and its effects on the body must be performed, the fact remains that each one of us has the ability to control what we choose to eat and, regardless of medical literature, no one knows our bodies more than we ourselves do.

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