Currently grains, especially wheat, are blamed for most of our digestive ills, which are rampant within a variety of autoimmune diseases, Crohn’s, IBS, and leaky gut syndromes that create other diseases.
Now we have the gluten free rage, similar to the low or no fat crazes of the past. The commercial food industry “solutions” for the faulty lipid theory of obesity and heart disease, which is a “low-fat diet,” has probably created more cases of obesity and heart disease than what had previously existed.
So how will this current gluten free fad pan out? Gluten free labels have become such a food industry marketing tool that it’s put on foods and beverages that have nothing to do with wheat or grains.
This marketing tool seems to be working for the food industry. But are the proclamations from recent books and the food industry marketing feeding into the anti-grain hysteria? A 2015 Italian study demonstrated that most of those who think they are gluten sensitive actually are not.
This was a two-year study of 392 patients who complained about gluten sensitivity because of digestive problems. To determine actual non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), they were all put on gluten free diets for six months and followed by one month of a normal gluten diet to determine what affected their symptoms.
Celiac disease (CD) was found in 26 of the 392 (6.63%) while two were determined wheat allergic (WA). Only 27 were diagnosed with NCGS (6.88%).
The remaining 337 patients who insisted they were gluten sensitive (85.96%) did not experience any change of symptoms with a gluten-free diet.
The researchers concluded:
Self-perceived gluten-related symptoms are rarely indicative of the presence of NCGS [non-celiac gluten sensitivity]. (Study abstract) Europeans generally have better baked grain products available to them than we do in the USA. Our large scale commercial bread and pastry industry has created wheat and other grain concoctions that contain a plethora of contributions toward bad digestion and overall health.
For the low percentage of actual gluten sensitive people, there are a few healthy gluten free baked products and recipes available. Yet most of the commercially promoted and sold gluten free baked products include ingredients such as processed fillers, or starchy and sugar laden substitutes. (Source)
A Historical Summary of Bread Degradation
Back in the day, when bread was still considered the staff of life, bread that people ate actually supported good health. The wholesome content of “our daily bread” has dwindled greatly since the early 20th century with a slow and steady decline, which began with chemically bleaching flour.
In the early 1900s, Dr. Harvey Wiley, head of the Bureau of Chemistry, a precursor to the FDA, opposed the process of chemically bleaching flour. Dr. Wiley was one of those rare good bureaucrats who quit his position out of frustration because the law he had helped create banning chemically bleached flour was never enforced, thanks to certain influential vested interests with political connections. (Source)
Even the quality of most wheat grass itself has deteriorated since the turn of the 20th century. It has been hybrid (not genetically engineered) through natural agricultural means to yield more gluten and support large scale commercial bread and pastry baking to provide soft mushy malleable sliced bread in larger quantities faster, easier, and cheaper.
Gluten is Latin for glue. It is comprised of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin, which are inherent in all grains to varying degrees and proportions. Without gluten, creating breads would be impossible. Experts point out the gliadin/glutenin ratios indicate the potential digestive difficulties. Gluten is in all grains, not just wheat.
The effort to provide cheap bread to the public has resulted in nutritionally vapid breads and pastries from inferior wheat with higher gluten protein ratios. Gluten may be the least problematic issue. Mass produced breads and pastries from grain to final product are processed with chemicals that not only inhibit nutrients, they poison us with added toxins.
Real Commercial Bread Hazards Beyond Gluten
Artificial chemical bleaching is banned in some European countries, where so far nutritional food still has some value. Here in the USA, even many so-called whole grain breads have some chemically bleached white flour in them.
In order to add shelf life and get that clean white color, wheat grains are crushed, destroying the bran and the germ, both containing most of the wheat or other grains’ nutrition and fiber. What remains is the endosperm layer, which is the starch without fiber.
The crushed starchy endosperm is treated with chlorides to get it white instantly. A byproduct of this process is alloxan, which is used to induce diabetes in lab animals for medical testing. (Source)
Never mind looking for that on bread labels. As a byproduct, including it on ingredient labels is not required. To avoid this diabetes-causing chemical, simply put any bread back on the shelf that includes white flour unless you’re in Europe or it specifically states “unbleached white flour.”
In order to make the flour dough easier to use by large scale commercial bakeries, they bromate the flour by adding potassium bromate. In addition to this bromide’s blocking or replacing iodine that your thyroid needs to fully function, it is carcinogenic.
There are only a few store shelf breads that are not bromated. Some of those few may proudly display that on their packages.
Bromating baked goods is banned in several other nations.
The USA’s “protective” agencies predictably remain protective of the corporate food industry. (Source)
Bad Farming Practices Create a Bad Start with Non-Organic Grains
Even before wheat or any other grain becomes flour, wheat and other non-organic factory farmed grains are treated with fungicides, pesticides, and insecticides during storage. That’s a bad start!
An even worse start for commercial non-organic wheat is desiccation. Some wheat or oat grains in high latitude North American areas are harvested a tad early to avoid incoming winter damage from moisture. The grains are quickly desiccated (dried) by spraying them with Roundup, a powerful herbicide cocktail with the controversial and dangerous active ingredient glyphosate.
Since wheat and oats are not GMO plant organisms that tolerate Roundup like Roundup Ready GMO soy and corn, desiccated grain grasses are essentially suffocated to dry quickly. And they have become glyphosate carriers after they’re desiccated. Glyphosate is not only carcinogenic, it has been cited as a co-factor in the rise of autism. (Source)
This process is not done by all commercial non-organic wheat or oat growers but it’s done by enough of them to warrant closer scrutiny. This practice is USDA approved and unreported on product labels. Even some organic products are inadvertently contaminated with glyphosate.
Glyphosate has been discovered in many Americans’ urine, especially children, and mothers’ breast milk and even in water supplies. (Source)
Better Bread Options
The best way to avoid all this is to make your own breads with the right unprocessed and unadulterated organic grains. Most consider that impractical or beyond one’s ability. Toward the end of this article you’ll be able to access some relatively easy home baking recipes if you are up to the task.
Fortunately there are options for us non-baking grocery shoppers too. Older traditional grains are still cultivated that contain better gliadin and glutenin ratios than modern hybrid wheat. Among those are traditional dark rye breads, spelt, kamut, and Einkorn wheat.
Einkorn wheat pastas are healthier than commonly used durum wheat, and they are easier to cook, tastier, and retain better consistency than most other pasta substitutes. (Source)
Safe and nutritious sprouted grain breads are usually found in health food refrigerators or freezers because they don’t contain preservatives. Sprouting partially converts grains into vegetables, creating slightly less protein while enhancing other nutrients. Read the section under the heading “Is There a Place for the Sprouting of Grains” here.
Real sourdough bread is another option that is rarely found on food store shelves. There are small artisan bakeries that make the real thing. Raising sourdough is a much slower process that uses a lactobacilli culture instead of baker’s yeast.
While 24 hours of fermenting is considered minimum, some artisan bakeries ferment the dough longer.
Studies among even Celiac disease sufferers have determined that even some of them could tolerate true sourdough bread. One study concluded:
These results showed that a bread biotechnology that uses selected lactobacilli, nontoxic flours, and a long fermentation time is a novel tool for decreasing the level of gluten intolerance in humans. (Source) According to an article from the Weston A. Price Foundation:
These intriguing results [from the above referenced study] suggest that wheat (or rye) flour that has undergone 24 hours of culture fermentation may render the “toxic” peptides harmless and allow the bread to be safely eaten by those with celiac disease, although studies of celiac patients consuming sourdough breads for a much longer period of time will be needed to confirm this. (Source) There are some fine points for shopping for sourdough breads to help you avoid picking up those cheap packaged imitations that take up storeroom shelves. You can view them here.
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