More and more people are focusing on becoming “gluten free”. Gluten is getting a very bad reputation these days as the reason people experience gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms. And the market for gluten free products is increasing.
When people experience some of these symptoms they think they have gluten intolerance and perhaps they do. The foods they eliminate from their diet are barley, rye, oats and wheat (BROW). These are very nutritious foods but if you cannot tolerate them they are better left out. Part of the adverse reaction to these foods may simply be the over consumption of them. If someone has toast for breakfast, a sandwich or pizza for lunch, wheat spaghetti and bread for dinner and crackers cookies, cakes for snacks and desserts they are consuming a tremendous amount of wheat. Any food in excess can cause problems no matter how nutritious it actually is.
Gluten intolerance is one thing, Celiac disease is another and only about 1% of the population has this problem. One percent? It is interesting that most of the population is lactose intolerant (about 60%) and should not consume cow’s milk products but for some reason a “dairy free” diet is not popular even though the symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, gas and bloating. Hmmm… some of those symptoms sound like wheat intolerance. So if as much as 60% of the population is lactose intolerant (with some groups of people being as high as 85% or 90%) why are we focused on gluten?
When it comes to the gluten containing foods (BROW), some people experience symptoms when they eat any of them, others seem to tolerate oats but not the barley, rye and wheat. Some people can eat these foods in smaller amounts without any symptoms. With all the varieties of noodles, breads, crackers and grains there is no reason not to enjoy foods (along with BROW) that naturally have no gluten like rice, corn, millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat or wild rice. There are wonderful breads, tortillas and crackers made from these gluten-free grains that we can enjoy and they are quite good.
There is that 1% of the population, however, that has a definite problem with gluten and they definitely have to restrict their foods a bit… more about that next time.