16

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gluten - all or nothing?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 20, 2011 at 3:03 AM

So I've been reading up on gluten... and at this point I'm quite convinced that gluten is not good for you, but I'm wondering if being gluten free is an "all or nothing" sort of deal?

The reason I ask is that it seems that people who have been gluten free for a long period of time have a lot of problems once they get a dose of gluten again. So I wonder... if I were to limit there gluten consumption to say, once per week, would that be a solution to the problem of feeling sick after eating gluten, while still getting the benefit of consuming considerably less gluten? Or is that no good because I am not "clean"?

25329057c9d5f6364a74787c8c2302e7

(806)

on June 21, 2011
at 05:04 AM

I don't think anyone is damaged beyond repair in regards to glute in trace amounts. I've heard people making sure the knife used to cut their chicken had t touched bread: this, to me, is Tlingit things too far.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on June 20, 2011
at 06:18 PM

if that's true, then what about people who rub their arm with sandpaper 3 times per day, every day, for years. some people do this, and they still have an 'arm', meaning that although it may not the best thing to do, it is not as detrimental as the analogy would indicate. I'm not trying to bash the idea completely. i'm just saying that I think that's getting a little carried away for most people. If you are severely celiac, maybe it's more applicable, but Tony doesn't mention anything about being gluten intolerant, and he likely would have if he were.

2a2da4d6df354c8473706281d61d1850

(430)

on June 20, 2011
at 01:19 PM

I heard once that occasional gluten exposure is akin to rubbing your forearm with sandpaper once/week. It would never get a chance to heal and would be in a constant state of repair.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on June 20, 2011
at 10:47 AM

We may have been built that way at birth. But are we still built that way after half a lifetime of bread/pasta/donuts/mac & cheese, which most of us have in our pasts? *Can* we be built that way again after going gluten-free and losing many of the symptoms, or are we damaged beyond complete repair?

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:52 AM

Nice! Saving this one for later...

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11 Answers

6
E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on June 20, 2011
at 04:25 AM

Well, I have celiac disease, and I wasn't diagnosed until around the time I turned 40, and I was only symptomatic, or at least what I thought was symptomatic for the prior 9 months or so to that.

Now, that aside, I can look back over my life ans see all kinds of signs:

  • dental cavities since I was a kid - malabsorption

  • night blindness while driving since I started driving at 16 - malabsorption

  • a period of time where I could eat ANYTHING and not gain weight - malabsorption

  • brain fog and a bunch of other things - malabsorption

Celiac disease is not easy to diagnose, and may be causing problems in a much larger group of people than those who have the most obvious and debilitating symptoms.

The way I look at it with the all or nothing argument can be distilled down to something like this:

Is there any such thing as a "little" bee sting?

If a "little" bit is ok, then why do medications as tiny as Valium, Zoloft, Aspirin, Tylenol, Sudafed and everything else have any effect on us when those pills are so tiny compared to our bodies?

In other words, shouldn't we have to gulp a plateful of medications in order to get them to work?

Or is a little bit just enough to cause changes - some noticeable, and others not so noticeable?

The "all or nothing" argument is as good as the metric it's based upon, and how much we can definitively say is good or bad. That's confusing at this point, and not well sorted out in quality research, but as the OP stated in the original question, it's looking more and more like gluten isn't any good for anybody, not just people like me who went through the very classic and extreme problems of celiac disease, and I now have a whole network of friends who have what they now call "gluten sensitivity" because they dropped gluten and a lot of problems like symptoms of MS, neuropathy and lots of other ailments that nothing else helped.

In short, maybe it's all bunk, or maybe it will all creep up on you in your 30s, 40s or 50s. Or not at all. It's a crap shoot, but the evidence is stacking up against it.

4
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on June 20, 2011
at 04:06 PM

Tony,

I am totally with you on this. In fact, I've discussed this in other threads and I sorta do that. This was part of the basis behind my question about eating certain foods to keep some of the 'workers' within the body that handle gluten on the super part time payroll.

Not many people seemed to agree really, saying that there is no reason to eat gluten, so why be concerned about whether or not your are intolerant to it.

I'm not ready to accept that. Because whether I should or not, I still occasionally consume some gluten. As far as I know, I have never had a reaction to grains. I've read all the write ups about and seen the studies that indicate that many people that are gluten intolerant go undiagnosed and never know it.

Well, I'd like be able to eat a piece of pizza every now and then, or have a cracker at a party, or drink a nice frosty ale, or have a plate of pasta at an Italian restaurant because my company threw a Christmas party... etc, etc.

In general, I don't eat bread, at all. I sometimes go 2-3 weeks without having even a pinch of gluten, so to say that eating it every now and then is 'just as bad' doesn't make a lot of sense to me. For every one meal that I eat with bread, I probably eat about 20 without. I think I probably get about 5% of the grain gluten of the average SAD eater. I'm ok with that, and so far, going 90-something percent grain free hasn't caused me to become celiac or even mildly intolerant to gluten proteins. I'm happy with this situation at the moment.

3
A0cc1bfd57d2a52a7468f8a06e930bbc

on June 20, 2011
at 03:46 AM

Why take the chance. If you feel better off gluten then that's the way to go. It will take a while to get the poison out of your system. You'll have a type of withdraw as the body adjusts. There are plenty of healthy alternatives out there. I just found a promising bread substitute at: http://blog.yourlighterside.com/2009/05/gluten-free-low-carb-buns-aka-oopsie.html

Gluten-free, low-carb buns (aka Oopsie rolls)

3 large eggs pinch of cream of tartar (1/8 tsp) 3 ounces cream cheese (Do not soften)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Separate the eggs and add cream cheese to the yolks. Use a mixer to combine the ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff (if you're using the same mixer, mix the whites first and then the yolk mixture). Using a spatula, gradually fold the egg yolk mixture into the white mixture, being careful not to break down the whites. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and spoon the mixture onto the sheet, making 6 mounds. Flatten each mound slightly.

Bake about 30 minutes (You want them slightly softer, not crumbly). Let cool on the sheet for a few minutes, and then remove to a rack and allow them to cool. Store in a loosely open sack and allow to rest on the counter before use (otherwise they might be too moist). Can be frozen.

Notes: If you are making these to be savory (for burgers) you can add dry mustard and dill or other seasonings to the yolk mixture. If you want a more sweet roll, add a very small amount of stevia natural sweetener to the yolk mixture.

Makes 6 Induction Friendly, Gluten-Free rolls.

Nutritional information per roll: Calories:85 , Carbohydrates: .6 g, Fiber: 0g, Net Carbohydrates: .6g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 7.5

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:52 AM

Nice! Saving this one for later...

2
E7320c552ab7453d2ff45d4be79f6b50

on June 20, 2011
at 02:33 PM

If Gluten is a problem for you, it needs to be completely removed from your diet. The antibodies remain resident and active in your body for life, so it's not one of those things where someone with Gluten intolerance or Celiac can say, "I haven't eaten Gluten for a few months, I think I'll splurge on some bread". Once a problem, always a problem...it is never healed. If a confirmed Celiac eats something with more than 20 parts per million of Gluten....which generally calculates out to only a few milligrams of Gluten....the symptoms will come crashing back with a vengeance, because of the exaggerated immune response that ensues.

Personally, I'm not a Celiac, but considering my diet is usually grain and Gluten free 95% of the time, if I "cheat" and eat something that contains Gluten, my seasonal allergies flare-up for a few days.

2
Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:49 AM

I stay away - not for gluten sensitivity reasons but because I get a severe sugar/insulin spike, to the point of having to take an immediate nap, and also because that spike triggers the addictive cycle big time.

I quit smoking many years ago, and I've never once been tempted by that "I can handle one a week" logic because I KNOW that I will never again be so fortunate to be able to quit for real a second time. I don't want to betray the accomplishment of quitting that first time.

Obviously gluten is not nicotine, but for the addictive personality like me it's close enough that I don't risk it..

2
8be7a492e2844e2ad5595a6c73974f99

(891)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:19 AM

Give it a shot and see how you feel. I have read a variety of experiences regarding gluten. You may find that once per week will feel like a heavy rock thrown into calm waters, or it may be an enjoyable cheat that keeps you somewhat tolerant of neo foods. I am sure it will change no matter what you do. Have fun and listen.

2
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on June 20, 2011
at 03:19 AM

I have read estimates of anywhere from 2 - 6 weeks needed for the body to repair the damage done from one shot of gluten. I think eating it once a week would keep you in a constant state of repair mode so you'd never actually heal. But I could be wrong.

I will say that I share the same concern although at this point in the game I'm pretty much screwed I think. Haven't tested it out lately and actually the fear of what will happen helps keep me on the straight and narrow. I will eventually give in when a piece of bread too gorgeous to pass by comes my way. I keep my digestive enzymes with me at all times but I'm not looking forward to seeing what happens.

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on June 20, 2011
at 05:57 PM

I have known for a long time that starches, particularly breads, aren't great for me, but I had them every now and then for convenience. After going strict Paleo, which meant an only slightly stricter version of the diet I was already on, I was astonished by the myriad of health benefits that I got. I think that gluten was a big part of it, and going from "low gluten" to "no gluten" ended up being a huge change.

A few times I have cheated by eating say three crackers with some cheese, or having a bun with a hotdog. I paid for this for 2-3 days of GI distress and basically flu symptoms.

I now think that I might be gluten intolerant, but I just sort of lived with it for years, not knowing what it was. Another possibility is that it just started to get more severe as I got older (I'm 41). Now, I am very strict about not eating even a single crumb of gluten, and I consider it toxic, for me at least.

1
25329057c9d5f6364a74787c8c2302e7

on June 20, 2011
at 04:53 AM

You know what? I would bet money that you can handle a little. I'm pretty sure paleo humans ate grain eating animals. I'm also sure that if times were tough, or maybe always, their stomach contents might have been eaten along with the rest of the animal. Therefore we are probably built to handle occasional, low dose of gluten. Think a small piece of nice italian bread at a restaurant. Not an occasional 2 pound bowl of pasta...

Alex from PaleoPax

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on June 20, 2011
at 10:47 AM

We may have been built that way at birth. But are we still built that way after half a lifetime of bread/pasta/donuts/mac & cheese, which most of us have in our pasts? *Can* we be built that way again after going gluten-free and losing many of the symptoms, or are we damaged beyond complete repair?

25329057c9d5f6364a74787c8c2302e7

(806)

on June 21, 2011
at 05:04 AM

I don't think anyone is damaged beyond repair in regards to glute in trace amounts. I've heard people making sure the knife used to cut their chicken had t touched bread: this, to me, is Tlingit things too far.

1
D5a4ff096a452a84a772efa0e6bc626e

(2486)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:58 AM

I think that it all depends on how reactionary you are and your other general inflammation. Do you tend towards allergies and inflammation in general? If so, you probably want to be extra-cautious about exposing yourself to gluten at all, because you can make your flora very very unhappy with you for weeks, resulting in allergies, inflamed joints, headaches and the like, not to mention a twisted, unhappy gut.

If you can handle intruders like pollen and stuff without your body freaking out, you will probably be able to handle a bit of gluten from time to time without a meltdown. But 'handle' gluten isn't even close to 'thrive on' gluten; I think it's not great for anybody. That said, I've found myself drinking A beer and living to tell the tale; even A piece of bread knots me up, and I tend to be a non-inflammatory sort.

And, yeah, if you're hellbound-and-determined to gluten yourself to a noticeable degree, probably best to have a bit each week/few days, rather than be perfectly pristine for half the year then gorge on gluten for a weekend. But try 6 weeks off it entirely before you decide- I didn't know how much it was affecting me until it was gone.

1
9d741bcbe702044635f2ce3078043054

(1435)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:21 AM

I think it depends on the individual. I have been Paleo for a year. Recently I have been allowing more regular gluten cheats into my diet (mostly in the form of beer), with no ill effects. Because I have been trying to get rid of chronic headaches, I track my diet and my well-being on a daily basis. I've found that small amounts of gluten don't seem to affect me one way or another.

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