WHY IS GLUTEN SUCH A PROBLEM?
Q Is gluten really bad for you? Should everyone be avoiding it, or just those who have allergies?
A When you pour water into a bowl of wheatflour, the reason it sticks together is gluten.
Gluten is a family of proteins and the two main ones are glutenin and glaidin. Glaidin is the protein responsible for the negative health effects of grains.
Today, most gluten comes from sources of wheat. If you took a modern-day strain of wheat and compared it to a strain that was available to us 30 years ago (before agriculture took off as a business), you would be surprised. It is biologically and genetically different from the original wheat grain, as it is a combination of different plants compared to the old wheat.
There are many different varieties of wheat. Years ago, we consumed varieties such as kamut and emmer, but almost all the wheat eaten today is from high-yield dwarf wheat, which is developed by genetic manipulation and cross-breeding. Dwarf wheat is much cheaper. It also has some differences in nutritional properties such as protein content, and lesser amounts of nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, copper and iron than found in, for example, kamut wheat.
Many studies show modern wheat varieties tend to raise our sugar levels at a much faster rate. Two slices of brown bread, for instance, raise your sugar levels as much as a bar of chocolate would – a reason we see a spike in the number of people suffering from type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance and so on.
Wheat also causes gut inflammation. If you are struggling with diabetes, acne or elevated fasting insulin levels, try to cut back on wheat to see if there are any positive changes.
RASHI CHOWDHARY is a nutritionist, diabetes educator and creator of The Protein Bake Shop