6

votes

Is gluten really an issue for "the rest of us"?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 04, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Ive been eating whole foods/paleo diet for years now. I remember in the beginning that things were a lot simpler- avoid wheat/grains because they are high in calories and low in nutrition. on top of that may people may find that they are gluten intolerant and never knew it. ok sounds reasonable enough, right? Now its seems that grains, especially wheat is a poison and no one should touch it regardless if you ever had any issues eating it because the damage is silent and hidden and takes up a year (by some recommendations) to heal from its ravages.

Well I never had issues back when I used to make my own bread once a week and grains where a staple of my diet. I did see improvement in my weight and health by eating a lot less of it (avoiding it) and by substituting more nutritious foods. Still wheat was not a poison and I could eat a burger with bun without guilt or thought as I was not getting any significant portion of my calories from it -so nothing to worry about,right?

But, over time with the influence of paleo books and blogs I found myself obsessing about "gluten" and paying way too much for gluten free this and that to avoid it, missing out on the joy of a simple burger or mac and cheese as if I was a celiac. Problem is the gluten free beers sent me to toilet, gluten free pasta for GF mac and cheese had me in painful cramps on the toilet. the gluten free foods tasted bad and the texture far worse.

Question is - is gluten really an issue for us not sensitive to it? I never had digestive problems until I went gluten free and those foods can really do havoc on my digestion where bread/beer/pasta have no effect on me what so ever. I understand that a diet based on grain is nutritionally poor compared to one of veggies and meats and that over time a diet BASED on gluten grains may effect those even with out sensitivities in a chronic way -not to mention that grain based usually implies junk food anyway. So what do think of me throwing out and avoiding GF foods and just enjoying the occasional piece of bread and bun and enjoying life without obsessing over food?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 25, 2013
at 03:03 PM

Now we know the target audience for Marlene Zuk's book: prosthelytizing vegans who troll over gluten controversies.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on January 06, 2013
at 10:29 PM

It's advisable to go 100% strict paleo for a while (Whole 30 or a similar approach) to get an understanding what your sensitivities and reactions to different foods when you re-introduce them to your diet. You don't have to go cold turkey on it right now like I did, but I'd say a 30-day stretch in the first year is probably timing.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 06, 2013
at 07:11 PM

@Roth, those are vague enough symptoms that everybody is gluten sensitive!

293ba4c95d190bc616b27d85b10d705a

(661)

on January 06, 2013
at 03:44 PM

I agree with you I think it's a fad

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 05, 2013
at 04:11 AM

It is confounded by red meat additives certainly. A lot of people are savvy to the problems with bacon and sausage. I question how much good I'm doing for myself with just smoking red meat, and that's certainly paleo but not necessarily optimal for longevity.

3327924660b1e2f8f8fc4ca27fedf2b2

(2919)

on January 05, 2013
at 02:21 AM

Gluten causes GI symptoms in those WITHOUT celiac: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21224837 There is such a thing as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. And sensitivity is a very broad term. Symptoms don't have to be isolated to the GI tract. An itchy scalp or dry eyes or waking up with eye boogers can all be symptoms of gluten sensitivity.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on January 04, 2013
at 11:27 PM

i dont think there is a transgenic varity of wheat yet.

77188106a9c27a22ad47d0ef7318de7a

(922)

on January 04, 2013
at 11:16 PM

I have heard that gluten gets crusted in the colon...potential connection to cancer in the colon?

892d177f50b16f118152219229870e4e

(776)

on January 04, 2013
at 11:01 PM

Imo,the science isn't there yet. If you do not have an auto immune issue I do not think the occasional indulgence would be of much consequence.

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

(971)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:27 PM

I would be curious about the type of meat eater. I doubt it's been controlled as to grass-fed/gmo,grain-fed much. Also, I feel better eating organs, bones and scraps than muscles and I was a HUGE muscle meat eater before going paleo. And the processing of the meat? Served with/on gluten? Also confounded by a high gluten diet...decreased nutrient absorption could increase meat cravings and ingestion. I am one of those that does not believe the science...why should I?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:17 PM

Colon cancer is commonly associated with high red meat diets yet I've yet to find a paleo here that believes the science associated.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:15 PM

Lol @paleo12. She asked for the stereotype and you chimed right in. Have you ever had cancer, or diabetes or heart disease? Think about it.

07f28815a1910a2efdd4e46df3cdc6b3

(120)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:09 PM

Colon cancer and cancer in general run in my family too, But I just want to be clear that Im not planning on making grain a staple of my diet. I Just want to know what if anything is wrong with, say eating a bun once a week or mac a cheese once a few months and not worrying if something has trace amounts of gluten and is not legally GF ect,ect.

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

(971)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:09 PM

Lots of people are more hard-line on this. I like to enjoy my life and I really like macaroni and cheese, specifically. But I would emphasize that just because you do not have an immediate reaction does not mean that you will not have a long, silent, insidious reaction, hence the dangers of wheat. Just be educated and find balance for yourself. Understand the underlying chemistry, same goes for sugar. I can feel truly awesome after sucking down a crazy straw and an espresso, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

(971)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:04 PM

I like your answer.

07f28815a1910a2efdd4e46df3cdc6b3

(120)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:02 PM

Thanks, I guess what Im really wondering is if I should just listen to my body and not obsess over food or is there something about gluten that Im missing and need to be educated on. I think your saying i should just listen to my body -which is what Im going to do but the issue nagged at me and I wanted to know what people thought.

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

(971)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:00 PM

Like, if you're eating lots of organs, veggies, and awesome foods, one ingestion of less nutritious choices isn't going to give you diabetes. I'm in a similar position to you, gluten doesn't make me sick on contact, but it does mess me up as a permanent diet staple used daily... and may cause me many insidious problems.

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

(971)

on January 04, 2013
at 09:53 PM

But that's kind of what I'm alluding to. Because your foods are more nutritious and less calories dense by proportion without gluten, gluten is a problem. If it doesn't cause you digestive issues I don't think it's any worse to have a mac n cheese one afternoon (and then pick up where you left off) than it is to have a margarita once in awhile as a paleo subscriber. I'd say go for it, just be informed (which you are). And maybe don't eat sorghum.

07f28815a1910a2efdd4e46df3cdc6b3

(120)

on January 04, 2013
at 09:49 PM

i attribute the improvement to eating more nutritious foods and less calories by eating a lot less bread and and a lot more veggies. I just don't see any digestive issues or any other reactions when I eat gluten grains and thats what Im trying to say. On the other hand a GF bun or Sorghum beer gives me painful cramps ect.

77188106a9c27a22ad47d0ef7318de7a

(922)

on January 04, 2013
at 09:23 PM

wheat is hybridized and often gm. don't consume it unless you want cancer.

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7 Answers

7
C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

on January 04, 2013
at 09:44 PM

I feel like you've answered your own question.

AND.... I feel great about you throwing away GF foods. You readily state they are making you not feel good, so why eat them (in the gf combos you are referring to)? Also, GF foods are considered by many on here as band-aid (for cravings) or coping type foods, not REAL FOOD CHOICES (GF beer? I'm not against it, it's just... it's not like it's paleo). Real food choices are whole foods, not foods meant to mimic processed foods. Even reading your post it is obvious that eating the GF substitute foods is causing you to somewhat focus on the gluten filled versions.

My personal opinion is that it's fine to indulge in a gluten food on occasion since you don't have a specific reaction (at intervals chosen by yourself as appropriate). Just understand they are not optimal for you and not a staple choice by any means. You know and understand the negatives and cumulative effects of eating gluten over time, you have outlined them above. I would venture to say that throwing out your GF foods and indulging once in awhile in some mac n cheese would be better than the way you are currently doing things?

I think that gluten does affect those without known sensitivites due to the reasons you stated above. They are eaten often when not looked at closely by individuals and are less-nutritious. That combination alone is a recipe for problems even if over a long period of time. You said you saw improvements without. Why would you assume that if you didn't make the changes you not only wouldn't have seen the improvements, but also might have seen a worsening of weight/health over the following years. It seems obvious you are eating better based on what you've said. Without gluten.

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

(971)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:00 PM

Like, if you're eating lots of organs, veggies, and awesome foods, one ingestion of less nutritious choices isn't going to give you diabetes. I'm in a similar position to you, gluten doesn't make me sick on contact, but it does mess me up as a permanent diet staple used daily... and may cause me many insidious problems.

07f28815a1910a2efdd4e46df3cdc6b3

(120)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:02 PM

Thanks, I guess what Im really wondering is if I should just listen to my body and not obsess over food or is there something about gluten that Im missing and need to be educated on. I think your saying i should just listen to my body -which is what Im going to do but the issue nagged at me and I wanted to know what people thought.

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

(971)

on January 04, 2013
at 09:53 PM

But that's kind of what I'm alluding to. Because your foods are more nutritious and less calories dense by proportion without gluten, gluten is a problem. If it doesn't cause you digestive issues I don't think it's any worse to have a mac n cheese one afternoon (and then pick up where you left off) than it is to have a margarita once in awhile as a paleo subscriber. I'd say go for it, just be informed (which you are). And maybe don't eat sorghum.

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

(971)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:09 PM

Lots of people are more hard-line on this. I like to enjoy my life and I really like macaroni and cheese, specifically. But I would emphasize that just because you do not have an immediate reaction does not mean that you will not have a long, silent, insidious reaction, hence the dangers of wheat. Just be educated and find balance for yourself. Understand the underlying chemistry, same goes for sugar. I can feel truly awesome after sucking down a crazy straw and an espresso, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

07f28815a1910a2efdd4e46df3cdc6b3

(120)

on January 04, 2013
at 09:49 PM

i attribute the improvement to eating more nutritious foods and less calories by eating a lot less bread and and a lot more veggies. I just don't see any digestive issues or any other reactions when I eat gluten grains and thats what Im trying to say. On the other hand a GF bun or Sorghum beer gives me painful cramps ect.

6
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on January 06, 2013
at 04:49 AM

I might get kicked out of the club here for saying this, but here goes:

It sounds like you've come to the conclusion that you do not have a gluten sensitivity. I don't think everyone does. On this board, we sort of have a population bias in that it's specifically for people following (or trying to follow) a Paleo-type diet, and many people "discover" this way of eating specifically because they've identified intolerances to foods a strict Paleo diet eliminates, like grains. legumes, and dairy.

And you recognized that there are many people who do have gluten sensitivity but don't even realize it, because they haven't connected their gluten consumption to their headaches, acne, arthritis, anxiety, or whatever other issues they've come to accept as "normal."

That being said, it sounds like you don't fall into that category. I think you found a good solution for yourself, barring any gluten sensitivity that you might notice at some point in the future:

"So what do think of me throwing out and avoiding GF foods and just enjoying the occasional piece of bread and bun and enjoying life without obsessing over food?"

I think that sounds like a good plan. Not only are gluten-free substitute foods usually loaded with weird crap, but plenty of people follow the 80/20 rule -- Paleo foods 80% of the time, and treats/non-Paleo foods 20% of the time. Of course, that 20% means different things to different people. For stricter folks, a "cheat" might mean some sour cream on their fajita meat & veg, some dark chocolate or, or something else that other people consume as a regular part of their more "primal" diet anyway, but they wouldn't touch gluten with a 10-foot pole. For others, the wiggle room is reserved for pretty much anything -- pizza, cookies, a Starbucks mocha, etc.

It's up to you what you choose to do. If you have no issues with gluten that you know of, I don't think it's the end of the world to have an occasional regular ol' piece of bread, cake, or whatever. (Like you said, just make sure it is occasional, and doesn't start to become your staple anymore.) It sounds like other people who've responded are on the side of there being a lot about gluten that we don't know -- like long-term effects (and potential cancer risk) even in people who seem to have no noticeable sensitivity. So I guess that's still an individual decision...current quality of life and enjoyment of certain foods now and then, versus whatever possibilities might arise down the road. (And even though gluten seems to be such a squirrely thing, I would imagine--in my very non-scientific opinion--that there might be a dose-response effect for those potential long-term effects. A bagel or some pizza once in a blue moon might be very different from toast every morning for breakfast, pasta for dinner, pretzels and crackers for snacks, etc.

While fully recognizing and respecting that gluten is a very serious issue for some people, for those for whom it isn't, I don't think a little now and then is a death sentence.

5
0859683443aff4a9d341606dbd326d32

(137)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:02 PM

My dad has had colon cancer twice now (beat it both times, thankfully), and every naturopath out there wholeheartedly expressed concern for the gluten/cancer relation, to the point where my entire family cut out gluten despite no one having intolerances or allergies to it. Although some people do have genetic predispositions for cancer / certain types of cancer, it's possible for everyone to develop colon cancer or colon issues in general due to a large consumption of gluten in the SAD. Personally this was why I first decided to stick to paleo and why I believe that everyone who wants to be healthier should as well. I cheat obviously and enjoy gluten-filled foods now and then, but overall I've seen too much evidence against grains to continue to keep them a part of my diet. Plus, cancer is probably the worst symptom, and there are many other less serious ones that are caused by grains as well.

07f28815a1910a2efdd4e46df3cdc6b3

(120)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:09 PM

Colon cancer and cancer in general run in my family too, But I just want to be clear that Im not planning on making grain a staple of my diet. I Just want to know what if anything is wrong with, say eating a bun once a week or mac a cheese once a few months and not worrying if something has trace amounts of gluten and is not legally GF ect,ect.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:17 PM

Colon cancer is commonly associated with high red meat diets yet I've yet to find a paleo here that believes the science associated.

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

(971)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:04 PM

I like your answer.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 05, 2013
at 04:11 AM

It is confounded by red meat additives certainly. A lot of people are savvy to the problems with bacon and sausage. I question how much good I'm doing for myself with just smoking red meat, and that's certainly paleo but not necessarily optimal for longevity.

77188106a9c27a22ad47d0ef7318de7a

(922)

on January 04, 2013
at 11:16 PM

I have heard that gluten gets crusted in the colon...potential connection to cancer in the colon?

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9

(971)

on January 04, 2013
at 10:27 PM

I would be curious about the type of meat eater. I doubt it's been controlled as to grass-fed/gmo,grain-fed much. Also, I feel better eating organs, bones and scraps than muscles and I was a HUGE muscle meat eater before going paleo. And the processing of the meat? Served with/on gluten? Also confounded by a high gluten diet...decreased nutrient absorption could increase meat cravings and ingestion. I am one of those that does not believe the science...why should I?

0
9aa4046713d6cd5dbf3220d913a178a0

(159)

on March 25, 2013
at 02:57 PM

Something worth noting: There was a study done on the effects of Gliadin (gluten) and intestinal permeability (leaky gut). It was discovered, that even those without "gluten sensitivity" experienced a temporary increase in intestinal permeability following the consumption of gluten.

When exposed to luminal gliadin, intestinal biopsies from celiac patients in remission expressed a sustained luminal zonulin release and increase in intestinal permeability that was blocked by FZI/0 pretreatment. Conversely, biopsies from non-celiac patients demonstrated a limited, transient zonulin release which was paralleled by an increase in intestinal permeability that never reached the level of permeability seen in celiac disease (CD) tissues.

So it would appear that even those seemingly tolerant to gluten, still do react abnormally to its consumption. Now whether these temporary increases in permeability have any negative effect on ones health, is another question.

0
24a0a0d5073f0a77c3737ef9d0e4c426

on January 06, 2013
at 06:42 PM

In my experience if you are not obviously sensitive to gluten then obsessing about it is probably more stress then it's worth.

My headaches and GI issues have all but disappeared. And I am not celiac (tested with dr) Except with my once in awhile fling with dairy where the GI stress is annoying but not so bad.

I don't bother with substitute with GF foods. They tend to be carb and soy heavy and go against eating paleo.

0
2a2e26984981440e91f9d5db85927205

on January 06, 2013
at 06:22 PM

I'm struggling with a similar question that the OP asked in this post. I enjoyed reading through all of the responses. I also recently decided to start reducing my gluten intake (no known symptoms/problems with Gluten foods btw) but have decided to focus more on a balanced approach. I went on my 1st gluten-free grocery shopping trip yesterday to a local health store, & I quickly was able to realize that focusing on buying Gluten-Free foods WILL NOT WORK FOR ME. The Gluten Free bread was hard as a rock, etc, etc.

I like the idea of the 80/20 plan. That should work pretty good for me. I am a Jr Paleo since I haven't yet fully committed to the diet but I'm becoming more & more interested every single day that goes by & am beginning the Paleo transition.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on January 06, 2013
at 10:29 PM

It's advisable to go 100% strict paleo for a while (Whole 30 or a similar approach) to get an understanding what your sensitivities and reactions to different foods when you re-introduce them to your diet. You don't have to go cold turkey on it right now like I did, but I'd say a 30-day stretch in the first year is probably timing.

-1
244aba3406d4da1405a4a74127b8a627

on March 25, 2013
at 02:22 PM

GLuten is misunderstood. A guy goes to a restuarant, or it could be at home, eats bread, white flour bread, WITH salad, and wine, and even pasta, and vej with sauce, and gloppy cheese dressing, and garlic bread on top of the table bread, and lobster, or steak, or pig, or chicken, or fish, and then dessert of pie, icecream, cake, "sorbet", or maybe howbout a "cheese board" with fruit, finishes with coffee/sugar/cream--and finally one day he breaks down, his body breaks down, and what gets the brunt of blame? You guessed it, "gluten".

Until "gluten" is tested all by itself, preferably as found in a highly evolved product, like a bread made with desem wild yeast starter culture--which greatly breaks down gluten and bran--it is not accurate, nor probably right to presume the substance is so godawful bad. I, BTW, don't eat it, am a satisfied vegan/starch/grain "eater", and doing good for 65. Read Paleofantasies", by Marlene Zuk, get a tiny bit of perspective (if that's possible) on ... on LIFE.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 25, 2013
at 03:03 PM

Now we know the target audience for Marlene Zuk's book: prosthelytizing vegans who troll over gluten controversies.

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