Gluten Intolerance: What really causes it & how to fix it

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These days, every where you turn there are gluten-free food options.

The problem is that more and more people are being labelled as "gluten intolerant" due to reactions and gut sensitives that are mostly blamed on "wheat".

But here's the thing...

Most people don't realise that "gluten-intolerance" is purely a modern-day phenomenon. For millennia, ancient cultures and civilisations embraced wheat and other whole grains as a vital part of their diets without any ill-effects.

The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks all harvested and ate grains plentifully and it was an important source of food, especially during the winter time, as they could easily be stored.

Take for example the “Hordearii” which was the name Roman Gladiators went by, it literally translates to “The Barley Men”.

These legendary warriors, infamous for their peak physical condition and strength in battle, were known to eat only a vegan diet based mainly on barley, wheat, beans and other pulses.

In fact, gluten was one of the key nutritional components of their foods which helped them to build their muscles, strength and vigour.

So to paint a clearer picture of what’s really going on, we first need to set a few things straight…

What is Gluten?

Gluten is the name given to a group of proteins contained within wheat and other grains, such as spelt, rye and barley.  Since wheat is the most widely consumed grain - because it is a staple ingredient in breads, flour, pasta and cereals - it is generally blamed the most.

What is rarely mentioned though, is that wholegrain gluten is actually a wonderful source of amino acids which is a building block of protein, important for muscle growth.

The word 'glu-ten' alludes to the sticky glue-like consistency which forms when flour is mixed with water to create dough.  However, it's important to realise that this doesn't paint the true picture as to what gluten really is, and how it is actually a beneficial nutrient in naturally harvested whole grains.

Adverse reactions to gluten are typically confined to people who already have poor gut health or a damaged intestinal wall and this will need healing first in order to stop these ongoing reactions. 

The point is, rather than place the blame solely on gluten, it's far better to be clear on exactly what gluten intolerance is, what causes it, and how you can avoid it being a problem for you in your diet.  

The Real Cause of “Gluten Intolerance”

The intolerance or “sensitivity” that is generally blamed on wheat and products containing wheat, is actually the body's reaction to an onslaught of chemicals used in harvesting, storage and the processing of wheat into commercial foods.

Big agri-businesses use a plethora of herbicides and pesticides during cultivation, and then after harvesting, often soak the grains in chemicals like aluminium fluoride and sulphur dioxide, to protect the grains from weevils and pests during transportation and storage.

Storage takes place in massive silos and can be for several years before processing.

Later, these grains are then ground into flour or processed into cereals with further concentrates and chemical additives, all of which can eventually upset the gut microbiome if consumed regularly.

As these chemically altered grains enter the digestive canal, they cause damage to the mucosal lining of the intestines, causing an inflammatory response and leading to the symptoms known as “gluten intolerance”.

In simple terms, "gluten intolerance" is really just a natural reaction to a build up of toxic overwhelm in the gut that your body is sending you a message that it wants to heal.

Many times, people who have been labelled as “gluten intolerant”, once they cleanse and heal their digestive tract, are able to re-incorporate freshly harvested, organic grains back into their diet without any further reactions or irritations.

Yes, this can require you to give up certain foods and follow a detox and cleansing protocol for a short period of time to allow your gut to reset, but it's well worth it if you are susceptible to symptoms of gluten intolerance.

Signs & Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

Symptoms of gluten intolerance and other common food allergies are typically any of the following when experienced regularly:

  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Skin Complaints
  • Anxiety & Depression
  • Rapid Weight Loss
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Joint & Muscle Pains/Numbness
  • Brain Fog

Common Sources

It definitely pays to check the labels of 'big brand' packaged foods in your supermarket before purchase, to see if they contain 'glutenous' grains and their derivatives.

  • Durum
  • Semolina
  • Emmer
  • Spelt
  • Farina
  • Farro
  • Graham
  • Einkorn Wheat

Other grains and extracts:

  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Triticale
  • Malt in various forms including: malted barley flour, malted milk or milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavouring, malt vinegar
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Wheat Starch

Common commercially produced “food” products that contain these ingredients typically include:

  • Pastas: raviolis, dumplings, couscous, and gnocchi
  • Noodles: ramen, udon, soba, chow mein, and egg noodles.
  • Breads & Pastries: croissants, pita, naan, bagels, flatbreads, cornbread, potato bread, muffins, doughnuts, rolls
  • Crackers: pretzels, goldfish, graham crackers
  • Baked Goods: cakes, cookies, pie crusts, brownies
  • Cereal & Granola: corn flakes and rice puffs often contain malt extract/flavouring, granola often made with regular oats, not gluten-free oats
  • Breakfast Foods: pancakes, waffles, french toast, crepes, and biscuits.
  • Breading & Coating Mixes: panko breadcrumbs
  • Croutons: stuffings, dressings
  • Sauces & Gravies (often have wheat flour as a thickener): traditional soy sauce, cream sauces made with a roux
  • Flour tortillas
  • Beer (unless explicitly gluten-free) and any malt beverages 
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Anything listed with “wheat flour” as an ingredient.

So what’s the alternative?

With a clear understanding of what truly leads to what is known as "gluten intolerance", you might want to change your focus from a gluten-free diet to a 'chemical-free' one!

Yes, it can be a challenge to know exactly where your food has been sourced and how it has been processed and prepared, which is why you should always choose wholegrain organic and shop from places like your local farmer's markets when you can. 

It is possible to get clean wholegrain organically grown products in your super market if you look hard enough.  Just be wary that even if a packaged product is labelled "organic" you should check the label to ensure that there are no preservatives or chemical additives that have been used in processing. 

Gluten-Free Grain Alternatives  

If you genuinely suffer from gluten intolerances and you'd prefer to avoid grains that contain gluten altogether, nutritious gluten-free whole grain alternatives that you can include in your diet are unrefined, organic varieties of:

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Flax
  • Millet
  • Corn
  • Sorghum
  • Tapioca
  • Buckwheat
  • Arrowroot
  • Amaranth

Thankfully, more and more today it's getting easy to find local whole food stores and markets that believe in health conscious, sustainable food production methods and who offer wholesome, chemical-free real foods.  These are the vendors you should seek out and support in your local area for the good of the community and your health.

Finally, if you regularly experience reactions to gluten or you're wanting to try and heal the intolerance or sensitivity, you should consider doing a gut cleanse protocol and/or a raw juice fast or raw food detox for 7-10 days.

Two FREE resources that can help guide you are our e-Books available at our Tolman Self Care.com website:

Gut Health 101 and;

Juice Cleansing 101

Also, consider doing our Natural 4-Day Colon Cleanse called, "Cleanse Me", to help cleanse and re-set your digestive, which includes Australian Food-Grade Bentonite Clay, Ground Psyllium Husk, Ground Flax, Dried Apple, Ginger and Cinnamon.

The Main Takeaway

Gluten Intolerance is the general term used to describe a range of inflammatory symptoms that many people experience in response to consuming wheat and processed foods containing wheat as an ingredient.

Whilst "wheat" receives the blame, the main problem is the chemicals used in growing, harvesting, transporting, storing and processing wheat into products such as flour, bread, cereals, cakes and biscuits.

Whole grains, including wheat, have been consumed by long-lived cultures for centuries and should form part of a healthy diet.  If you really can't tolerate wheat, then mother nature offers a selection of delicious, nutritious other grains that you should consider as an alternative.

Above all, when it comes to Gluten Intolerance, the secret is to avoid grain products that have been heavily processed and to instead return to organically grown, wholegrain products that nature's table provides to support your health and longevity.

Tolman Self Care.

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