More Adventures in Gluten-Free Eating: Is There More to the Story?
By Sandy McCall
My line regarding my own diet has always been that I really don’t have a problem with wheat gluten but as Americans we just eat too much of it. So when I set out to eliminate/lessen gluten from my diet, it was no big deal, or so I thought!! I have never consumed a lot of wheat, barley or rye so it wouldn’t be a big deal to cut them out, right? After all I have just discovered several ancient “grains” (seeds) and they are a fun, yet an expensive alternative. Right?
So I eliminated wheat gluten from my home cooking and made an attempt to do the same while eating in restaurants. Wow! is all I can say. Almost immediately I felt better. I recognized that wheat gluten did affect my digestion but I had just gotten used to feeling uncomfortable after eating … After all I have been doing the same for 60-something years, so why should I be surprised?
Well I WAS surprised by what followed!!! So at first I felt great, belly was shrinking, fat/inflammation at my sides decreasing, food cravings subsided. It’s all good and then after a week or so, I started to have odd things happening like anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, itchy skin and joint pain. Hmmm … So I looked at the things I had recently changed. The diet was obvious and then I had added a couple of supplements.
The symptoms continued with inflammation and joint pain being the most severe parts of what I was experiencing. I have had arthritis for many years that I have kept at bay with yoga, exercise, diet and supplements. But now, the joint pain and inflammation were terrible!
My fear was enormous too. I worked with my doctor regularly to get to the bottom of this but it was the after-the-fact research that was most enlightening. Could it be that detoxing from wheat gluten was the culprit? I started reading stories online from others who reported similar affects from eliminating wheat gluten. Still shocked by what I was reading (and feeling) and also remembering that not everything you read on the web is true, I continued exploring. Could you really experience withdrawal-type detoxification symptoms from eliminating wheat gluten? And there may be more to the story!
Now I am researching the changes in the wheat we have been eating over the last 50 years. Is it possible that the molecular structure of wheat has been changed so significantly that we are truly seeing the affects now through poor health and obesity in particular? Here’s a web link from the Wall Street Journal called Eating Like the Ancients: Heirloom Grains Return.
Are we really talking about a change in nutritional values, or is there more? The glycemic index is much higher for the wheat most of us consume every day and apparently that is not so with heirloom wheat. Could it be that the higher glycemic value is what is causing the epidemic of obesity in our country?
After several weeks I am starting to feel better! A friend loaned me a book called Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight by William Davis, MD. Again surprised at what I read, I am continuing on with the search for answers. When I got to the chapter on addiction and withdrawal from wheat and how digestion plays such a large role, once again, I was paying attention.
So given the reported changes in the wheat grains that most of us consume every day, I started researching more about the ancient wheat grains and found this list of ancient wheat grains:
• einkorn (German)
• small spelt (Italian)
• farro piccolo (Italian)
• engrain (French)
• Le petit épautre (French)
• tiphe (Greek)
• siyez (Turkish)
• sifon (Hebrew)
This website has some yummy recipes using some of these grains or flours, like carrot cake, tortillas, crackers and pilaf: www.einkorn.com.
NOTE: If you have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, you of course have more concern and will need to investigate further before considering ancient wheat grains.
Here’s a quote from this same website; log on to read more: “Did Wheat Hybridization Give Rise To Celiac Disease? Starting in the 1960s, and increasingly in the 1990s, plant breeders undertook efforts to produce hybrid wheat varieties with the goals of improving yield and disease resistance. Both worthwhile goals but it’s possible that wheat hybridization may have led to the rapidly growing prevalence of celiac disease today …”
So, if you choose to investigate these ancient grains further, a semi-local company is Anson Mills in Charleston South Carolina. I appreciate the care they seem to take in producing their products. I placed an order recently in spite of the higher prices just to see what affect these grains might have on my body. I have been using farro as a hot cereal and like it a lot … doesn’t affect my digestion as most wheat, but I think it is personal to each individual. I will be experimenting with some of the other products I received from Anson and will report back to you in the months to follow!
Write to me and tell me what you think and what your experiences might have been! I’d love to have you readers on this Adventure with me.
Sandy McCall’s day job is working as the Broker/Owner of Southern Life Realty. When she’s not cooking or loving-up her cat and dogs, she enjoys writing for WNC Woman and volunteering for Madison Habitat for Humanities and Manna FoodBank.
Sandy@SouthernLifeRealty.com or 828-273-9755