What it is and where to find it
Gluten is a protein found within wheat, rye, and barley. Not all processed foods contain or come in contact with gluten, but many do. For example, oats themselves do not contain gluten, but in the production of commercial oatmeal, unless specially prepared, oats will come in contact with this substance. For those who are sensitive or allergic to gluten, diligence in label reading and self-education is necessary to avoid exposure.
Those who are only sensitive – not allergic – to high amounts of gluten may find themselves tolerating sprouted grains (as found in Ezekiel bread). Ezekiel bread is made from wheat grains, barley, and rye, but in the traditional sprouting process, they become easier to digest. If you are someone who has a high tolerance for gluten/grains or you’ve found yourself to have no reaction to gluten, you may be fine to include foods like Ezekiel bread without issue.
Allergic / sensitive
Recently, the idea that one could have a non-allergy gluten sensitivity has gained acceptance, after having been scorned for many years. There is a strong difference between allergy and sensitivity, but both are valid. Anyone who is allergic to gluten (such as Celiac disease sufferers) experience reactions quickly and can be intense. But gluten sensitivity can manifest itself more slowly and be more mild. Symptoms could involve pain or bloating a few hours or days after eating.
The best way to know for sure how your body responds to various foods is by ordering tests from your doctor. Tests are also available for you to order online. The website everlywell.com offers a food sensitivity screen. You can also order genetic testing for a more in-depth look at various markers within your own body as well as any that might have been inherited from your lineage.
A common criticism of this gluten sensitivity topic is: “Humans have been eating wheat for generations, why is it only now a problem? This looks like a cash-grab or trend!” Like many advances in medicine and science, asking questions leads to investigation, which leads eventually to theories and answers. Prior to the 19th century, did no one have Celiac disease? Yes, of course they did. It just wasn’t named and classified. And to add to that, over the last century the way we grow, produce, and consume our food has drastically changed. In many ways for the better. Yet, as research advances into how some methods of agriculture and food consumption proves, in many ways for the worse of the health of the incredibly complex human body.
There is pioneering new thought in the research of food sensitivity which suggests that gluten reactions (as well as reactions from other foods) may not be down to genetics entirely, but more to do with viral pathogens (such as Epstein-Barr Virus among others) within the body. That these foods may actually be feeding these invaders. In theory, it’s these pathogens that are creating these inflammatory effects on the body. But much more research does need to be done in this area.
Foods to include in your diet if you are someone who struggles with food allergies or sensitivities are garlic, figs, kiwis, lemons & limes (consider adding either of these to water), pears, papaya, apples, wild blueberries, and leafy greens. Foods which are seen to cause inflammation are: wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, pork, shellfish, peanuts, canola oil, and corn.