Can Eating Gluten Free Be Harmful to Your Health?

Can Eating Gluten Free Be Harmful to Your Health?
If you are Celiac, this article is not about you.  If you are Celiac we honor you for all the trouble you've had to go through and the work you've done in the world to make people aware of this issue and make a variety alternative grains available for yourself and everyone else.

But, many people we know, including ourselves, are not celiac but often eat gluten free because we think it's just healthier.  Or our naturopath or ayurvedic doctor has told us that it's better for us, for some sensitivity or other.  Is this really true?  Let's look at it from several perspectives.

If you're eating out, you are likely avoiding the McDonalds, Burger Kings and other fast food joints and more likely eating Thai food, Mexican, Indian food or Sushi.  By doing this you're not only avoiding gluten, but you're reducing your intake of other contaminants like trans fats, rancid meats and bleached flour.  And while you're keeping away from the fast food joint, you're probably consuming fewer diet sodas with aspartame.  Avoiding all these can only be good. 

Maybe you're eating at home more because it's generally not so easy for you to find what you can eat in restaurants at all.  This is also good.  By eating at home more, you know exactly what goes into your food, and you probably prepare it with love.  Both of these things are crucial to health. 

Now let's look at the assumption "the non-gluten grains are less starchy and easier to digest." This is mostly true, but it has its limits.  Because commercial wheat has been bred and bred and bred (pun intended) over centuries to be easier to grow and harvest, and recently for machines to process, it has lost much of its nutritional value.  Furthermore, wheat has no hard outer kernel to protect it from bugs. It is purposely bred, even organic varieties, to contain more of certain enzymes that make it difficult for bugs to digest.  Those same enzymes make it harder for us to digest as well.  So let's back up a few centuries.  Several ancient varieties of wheat and wheat relatives, such as spelt (our favorite), emmer and Kamut, have not been altered from their naturally occurring, high-protein high fiber, nutrient-dense state. In fact, both spelt and emmer contain less gluten yet more protein and fiber than regular wheat. Kamut may as well but I haven't studied it.  Even certain varieties of good old "wheat" are good for you (as long as you aren't a diagnosed Celiac.) 

Avoiding wheat bread because of bleaching is also a good idea. Bleached flour is a scourge, and nothing less.  Flour was first bleached using a chemical called "alloxan."  Alloxan is a by-product of another chemical process, that someone lobbied to use because they noticed that it also made flour appear whiter.  In the 50s the whiteness was used as a symbol of so-called "purity."  The only other use for alloxan is to induce diabetes in lab rats.  Read here for more on this.  Now, any number of toxic bleaches are used to produce bleached white flour.  None of them are safe.  If you want to know what they are, read here.

So maybe you're actually making out healthier by avoiding gluten, because in the process, you're eating at home more often and ingesting less fast food and overall fewer toxins.  But here's where the gluten-free panacea stops. 

No matter what you eat or what your dietary restrictions, there's no substitute for reading labels and knowing the source of your ingredients. 

Look at the packages of gluten free goods in your pantry.  Do they contain any of these?

Soy (defatted soy flour is typical)
Crystalline Fructose (the only known source is from GMO corn)
Cellulose Gum (95% of it is from GMO cotton)
Potato Starch
Rice (there are over a hundred GMO rice varieties out there now including some with HUMAN Genes!!!) (Read here if you think it's too horrible and I must be making it up.)

If you are already eating gluten fee, I don't need to tell you that these are among the MOST COMMON ingredients used in gluten free foods, especially baked goods.

One thing that goes unknown to most people is the danger of GMO ingredients.  What's a GMO?  That's the common lingo for "genetically modified organism."  That means that instead of eating a plant that was hybridized by natural means, you're eating a plant that has been artificially injected with foreign DNA, often animal DNA. The DNA manifests in the plants as previously-unknown proteins. (do you detect danger here? I do.)

There's plenty of propaganda out there about GMOs as being safe, harmless and a solution for world hunger.  Don't believe any of it.  Some of my favorite real science on GMOs comes from Czechoslovakia, one country in the EU that remains GMO free because they did not cave to political pressure from the Biotech companies.  Some interesting research also comes from Hungary, which has GMO-free regions.  Watch a few Hungarian GMO videos here if interested (but warning it's long and translation is a bit rough.)

One thing that a Hungarian scientist explains in the video is what happens to the extra DNA in the body.  Essentially, it becomes random floating matter with nowhere to go since the body has never seen these proteins before and doesn't know how to deal with them.  They essentially stick to the intestines of the animal that eats them. (including us.)

Why are food allergies on the rise?

Why, GMOs of course. If you have nut allergies and order a test, that test will look for proteins found in nuts that cause allergies.  The addition of foreign proteins can only cause more allergies. 

Did you know that soy allergies doubled worldwide within 2 years of introduction of GMO soy?  Soy is already highly allergenic and apparently the foreign proteins that get inserted into it are highly allergenic as well. Peanut allergens even turned up in soy!  But, because this issue is not publicized, few people know about it all, including doctors who might be looking at your diet when you have food sensitivities or seem to be dealing with allergies.  Read here on this issue for more.

What's the solution?

The solution is to eat only organic food, and food that is labeled Non-GMO.  If you see foods labeled GMO Free that aren't certified, call them up or email them and ask them to get verified through the Non-GMO Project.

Prana Foods is in the process of getting this very certification.  We stand by our foods as GMO Free, even down to the trace ingredients.  We declined to buy a certain brand of gluten-free chocolate chips for our cookies, because the cane juice had been processed with cornstarch that the company could not provide any satisfactory information on.  Besides, we had a strong preference to make the cookies corn-free, and we found a way (and a tastier one) by buying our chocolate from a tiny boutique company that is free from every allergen we know of.

We believe in eating variety.  Eating Gluten Free can partly accomplish this but watch out for overdoing the usual substitutes.  We have formulated all of our products to favor variety and give delicious, true alternatives to people, whether you eat gluten free or not.  You can of course order our extraordinary products on our store page, or visit Manna Mills and buy them there!

Eat healthy, eat happy and eat love.