Real Fine Food: Know Your Body, and the Type of Food You Put Into It

Columnist Stephanie Casey
Columnist Stephanie Casey

I ended my 30-day gluten-free trial five hours early with a veggie burger at The Lakewood Landing.

A place with dim lighting was necessary because I didn’t know if anything uncontrollable would happen as I bit into that soft, fluffy bun. Fortunately, only a few food moans ensued. I don’t eat bread too often, but after about 10 days of my trial, boy, did I miss it.

So did I notice anything? Were there observable changes from cutting out wheat, rye, and barley from my diet for 30 days? In short … not really. During the first week, I did get a couple of uncharacteristic deep, unfriendly zits, but without another test, it’s hard to say if that was gluten leaving my system or just a coincidence.

Noticeably, blood-sugar drops and spikes were not as dramatic — meaning that when I accidentally would let myself wait too long to eat, I never hit a “must-eat something, anything, right now” wall. But other than that, I didn’t have any reactions to cutting out gluten or bringing it back in. Which means I’m lucky and have no gluten sensitivity and a healthy digestive system.

I did hear from others during this trial, several stories of people who recently developed sensitivity to gluten in adulthood — bloating, depression, digestive issues, feeling sick after eating — some who suddenly tested positive for celiac and others who didn’t, but cutting out wheat solved their issues.

So what’s the deal? Well, I read lots of gluten articles from doctors, scientists, news agencies, conspiracy theorists, and random bloggers. As expected, our current methods of growing and processing grains have changed in modern times. The main wheat strain grown in the West is a high-yield seed. It is milled in such a way that makes it less nutrient-dense (which explains the blood-sugar spikes and also why it’s unattractive to most pests).

The good old days saw grains soaked, sprouted, and fermented, and bread was baked with slow-rise yeast. Today, most wheat product is bleached and grown as fast as possible, processed in a way that depletes nutrients.

In 2013, genetically modified wheat engineered by Monsanto showed up, inexplicably, on Oregon farmland. And then in 2014 in Montana. The company had created GMO wheat strains but supposedly never released any of them. The USDA has investigated, inconclusively.

Regardless of how we got to this place with glutenous grains, there is no question that lots of people’s bodies no longer agree with it. What a shame. We need to be careful about how we mess with our food. Advances in speed and yield can be at the cost of losses in other areas.

Stay informed, listen to your body and know your food. And if you do get to enjoy fresh breads, pastas or a frosty rye or barley beer without gluten repercussion — savor the experience! Others are not so lucky.

Stephanie M. Casey can be reached at [email protected]. Join Real Fine Food on Instagram and Facebook.

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