May is National Celiac Awareness Month. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes an allergic reaction to wheat and all other gluten grains. It is a growing epidemic, with more and more people being diagnosed every year. Since the 1950’s there are approximately 5 times more people with the disease. Another study showed that since 1974 the rate of the disease doubles every 15 years. The rise in Celiac Disease may be occurring due to several factors: early exposure of wheat in childhood when the body is not ready for it, higher levels of gluten due to genetic modification of grains, hidden sources of gluten in everyday products, and weakened immune systems due to antibiotic overuse, environmental toxins, and excessive sanitization. Whatever the case is, Celiac Disease is very serious and can cause detrimental health effects. The only way to remain healthy is complete avoidance of gluten.
Celiac Disease aside, there is also a growing number of people choosing to abstain from gluten simply because it makes them feel better. There is an anti-wheat movement spreading across the country. People are finding that with the avoidance of gluten grains or simply wheat, they have more energy, less joint pain, better digestion, weight loss, blood sugar stability, more focus, and less anxiety. People are realizing that wheat, the beloved grain that was supposed to save the world from poverty and starvation, is not so healthy for us after all.
What is it about wheat that is so bad? For one, it is very high glycemic, meaning it causes a spike in your blood sugar which subsequently causes a spike in your insulin. Over time this can lead to insulin resistance, hypoglycemic episodes, and possibly diabetes. Trends actually show that the increase in wheat consumption since the 1970’s directly corresponds with the rise in Type II Diabetes. Wheat is also one of the major contributors to the country’s growing obesity epidemic. Secondly, wheat is very high in gluten. Gluten is composed of gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin is responsible for the immune reaction in Celiacs. It also crosses the blood brain barrier and can bind to opiate receptors in the brain causing psychotic episodes in sensitive individuals. And thirdly, wheat contains a high amount of lectins, a glycoprotein found in some grains and legumes. Lectins are completely indigestible and are actually capable of ‘unlocking’ the body’s protective intestinal barrier. This creates a Leaky Gut, which allows foreign substances into the blood stream. A Leaky Gut can lead to many health issues which were discussed in a previous article. With all of these negative aspects to wheat it is a wonder why we continue to incorporate it into our daily diets.
Whether you have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, are gluten intolerant, or simply anti-wheat, come and join our:
Gluten Free Grocery Tour on May 19 @ 2 pm.
There will be samples and give aways for everyone!
By: Krista Boulding, RHN