Gluten – friend or foe?

Back in August, The Guardian newspaper did a feature length article about the debate between gluten intolerance, looking at whether it is just a fad – or not?!

As many of us know, there is a lot of negativity surrounding those who choose to eliminate gluten from their diet and those experiencing digestive issues which appear to be gluten related.

However this article, which reviewed various research papers, also recognise the potential causes of the ‘sudden’ development of gluten insensitivity, given the long history of gluten being a dietary staple.

As the article says, there is no doubt that the number of uk residents choosing to avoid gluten is rising quickly and according The Guardian, 15% of households now choose to avoid it.  However, the scepticism surrounding it has grown equitably.

There is no contention that those with coeliac disease have a very real problem with gluten, but the battle begins when looking at the 6-8% of the population which are considered to have a non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

Why – should grains that have been eaten for thousands and thousand of years, suddenly become a problem to digest?  Perhaps the to focus needs to change to what has happened to the grains themselves.

One theory is that the more modern strains of grain have been bred to have higher levels of stronger gluten -this higher level of gluten gives rise to fluffier bread.  Such highly cultivated grains were not eaten even a hundred years ago so this is a definite change.

Another agricultural change which could be to blame is the use of pesticides and other chemicals.   So it could be what else we are digesting at the same time as the gluten, not necessarily the gluten itself.

The manufacturing process can’t be overlooked either.  Modern processed bakes goods can have as many as 27 potential allergens through the chemicals, enzymes and additives that are incorporated.  These additions have been linked to the medical condition ‘Bakers lung’ and could therefore quite readily be having an impact on consumers.

One final significant change in the production, of bread in particular, is to do with the speed in which bread is now made.  Gone is the long slow fermentation process, in which parts of the grain starts being broken down due to the bacterial and lactic acid. Without the grain being broken down, perhaps this makes it more difficult to digest.

The Guardian goes into much more depth about the potential causes, but it also gives some solutions to consider trying to see if gluten itself isn’t the problem, but the highly processed, modified and additive laden products themselves.

We hope you enjoyed our summary and overview but if you would like to read the full article please visit the full article here


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